The raison d'etre of many hip-era communes of the 1960s and 70s was to experiment
with societal taboos. One area where this played out was the extent to which
members shared of themselves with the group, not only materially, but socially,
spiritually and sexually. Communes of the era were often described by the popular
press as bastions of free love, where sexual sharing was not only commonplace,
but easy and uncomplicated. Yet when we examine the feelings of the members
themselves, a different picture emerges. These communes (at least in the United
States) were largely made up of young adults whose models of mature sexual relationships
had come from the 1950s suburbs, where TV couples like Ozzie and Harriet were
icons of respectability. That commune members might have difficulty shedding
such a background is understandable. Outside of stories of financial woes, one
of the most common laments of interviewees of the 1960s Communes Project related
to breakups with sexual partners and the difficulty of watching one's former
partner pair up with someone new.
The purpose of this paper is to explore how couple relationships fared in 1960s communes, using first-person voices from the transcripts of the 1960s communes project as data.
Deborah Altus has written widely on the topics of Walden Two communities, aging
in community, women in community, and student housing co-ops. She interviewed
hundreds of people for the 1960s Communes Project. Deborah teaches at Washburn
University, USA, and has lived in three different cooperative housing groups.
Changes in the employment structure within the kibbutz, and looking for income
outside the kibbutz, have made young people realize the importance of higher
education. Over the last few years, young people have tended to maintain contact
with their kibbutz communities without committing themselves to the kibbutz.
An important stage for most of them is post-secondary school studies.
Based on research with 342 kibbutz students and 700 other students, this lecture will present:
the pattern of study preferences and the crystallization of professional identity of the kibbutz-born in comparison to their non-kibbutz counterparts.
the factors involved in their choice of studies.
the part the kibbutz plays in their personal decisions, and the effect of the social environment on their study preference.
Most of the kibbutz-born young people chose higher education, and many (more than in the general population) chose academic studies. More of them studied in academic colleges (mostly professional) than in universities.
Kibbutz-born and their non-kibbutz counterparts have different study preferences. The kibbutz-born tend to choose practical, scientific studies and social professions as opposed to theoretical science and humanities, particularly among women. The range of study and professional work chosen by them is more limited than their general normative choices. We will present the pattern of study choice and the factors that explain this pattern of preference.
Dr Arza Avrahami is a long-term member of Kibbutz Palmachim, Israel. She is
Head of the Kibbutz Education Research Institute at Oranim: School of Education
of the Kibbutz Movement. Her research interests include the sociology of youth,
and the sociology of Kibbutz education.
Until recently, kibbutz members and kibbutz society had a defined, recognized
and unique identity which was based on a comprehensive set of values and established
institutions. These values and institutions defined the boundaries of the kibbutz,
its collective identity as a social unity, and the identity of each member.
After the crisis of the mid 1980s, a process of change began in all spheres of kibbutz life and social structure. As a result, solidarity and commitment (as defined by Kanter, 1972) were weakened, and kibbutz members lost their social capital. The social agreements and balances - which are very important for social solidarity - were affected and the mode of action was changed from communicative' to strategic' (Habermas, 1982).
The boundaries and identity of each kibbutz and of each member are not certain any more, or at least, are difficult to recognize and define. The members are confused and not sure about their social identity, a situation typical to an era of change and uncertainty.
In the research which will be reported in this presentation, we tried to determine how kibbutz members define their social and personal identity, and where the (new ?) boundaries of community/kibbutz are being designated.
This research is based on 47 in-depth interviews with kibbutz members in 10 kibbutzim, conducted in 1999.
Eli Avrahami is a long-term member of Kibbutz Palmachim, and works as a Research
Fellow at Yad Tabenkin Research Centre of the Kibbutz Movement, near Tel Aviv,
Israel. His main fields of interest are political science, Israeli society and
politics, communes and kibbutz studies. He is author of The Changing Kibbutz:
An Examination of Values and Structure, and editor of Kibbutz Lexicon and co-editor
Jan Martin Bang
The Camphill Villages were started in Scotland in the 1940's by refugees from
Nazi Austria, inspired by the Anthroposophical ideas developed by Rudolf Steiner.
Their main activity was to educate handicapped children, and this was extended
to adults in the mid 1950's with the founding of Botton Village in Yorkshire,
England. Today there are about 100 villages worldwide, in twenty countries,
mainly in Europe, but also in North America, South Africa, Russia and Eastern
Most villages comprise a biodynamic farm, and various workshops including bakeries, weaveries, and other handicraft workshops. There is generally a high degree of self-sufficiency and a good deal of environmental awareness.
The spiritual and cultural life of the communities is based on Anthroposophical ideas such as the threefold social organism. The aim is to create a society where handicapped people, and others damaged by mainstream society, can fit in, contribute usefully and feel themselves to be valued members with a respect for each individual soul spirit.
New villages are created every year, especially in Eastern Europe and Russia, and links are being forged with similar initiatives in countries such as India and Israel. Environmental developments have created wide use of the Flow Form and Root Zone sewage treatment, and experiments in ecological building techniques.
The presentation will finish with an introduction to the Bridge Building School, a new educational initiative at Solborg Camphill Village in Norway. We see ourselves as a training centre for ecological techniques for use in Camphill and Ecovillages worldwide, with an emphasis on building using environmentally sound materials and developing projects in Eastern Europe. We are working closely with the Scandinavian Straw and Mud Building Association and the local Permaculture Group.
Jan Martin Bang grew up in England where he was active in the Cooperative and Trade Union Movements. He moved to Israel in 1984 and was a kibbutz member for 16 years. Since 1993 he has worked on environmental projects within the Kibbutz Movement. This took him on extensive travels within the region, teaching Permaculture courses and visiting ecovillages in Egypt, Turkey, Cyprus and the Palestinian areas. He now lives with his family in Solborg Camphill Village, Norway, and is part of the teaching team at the Bridge Building School.
In Germany at the end of the 1960s, a social movement was born as a reaction
against the social costs of industrialisation. Out of this German alternative
or countercultural movement, many communal groups were formed, and these have
grown. I have researched these German communities, asking the members about
their reasons for joining such a group, and about their experiences of living
In this presentation, I shall report on the results of this research, and shall talk about current developments within German communal groups, based on my comprehensive survey of Eurotopia: Dictionary of European Communities and Öko-villages (2000/2001).
Germans joined intentional communities in order to live a life of self-determination, i.e., in an egalitarian society. They wanted to work and live together with other people and to overcome social isolation. How successful were they in achieving these aims?
Detlef Bansamir has a degree in Political Science, and has for many years
been interested in communal and self-management groups in Germany. He is now
establishing, in conjunction with others, his own commune. He is trying to put
into practice what he has learned from his extensive research into communal
This photographic and verbal ( right/left-brain) presentation begins with an overview of how different cultures chose entirely unique, often uncanny "visions of nature" - what powerfully shapes how we live in community. To best illustrate this we revisit the vision shift from the medieval to the modern world-view. In little over a century, this completely undermined feudal society's communal structures. It led to the French, American, and Russian revolutions - and as a direct consequence of their innermost or spiritual change. At first this affected only the pure sciences (such as chemistry/physics) then derivatively medicine and psychology (how we see ourselves), and finally how we live together communally.
Understanding this influence, we revisit our present world-view. How does it
now shape up to influence our dominant ways of interacting? First we notice
an up to 90% decline in extended families in the US, Canada, and other "developed"
countries. Globally tribe and community relationships have decidedly withered.
Human relationships have become increasingly stressed and insecure. The gap
between rich and poor has widened - and a higher percentage of men and women
have died in wars during the 20th century than in any other. On an expanded
environmental front (how we relate to all of life) pervasive chemical pollution
and ecological destruction surround us. Our "progress" has caused
24% of mammals to be threatened with extinction - and statistics predict up
to 50% by 2100.
Next we raise the very pressing question - what exactly is going so wrong with this core vision? We then focus on its essential weave, its very soul - the use of mathematics to wrestle nature's deepest secrets. We examine why this approach is faulty and non-sustainable. We then explore deserting this core focus - altering the foundation stone upon which rests our world-view. This inevitably leads to a radical repositioning of the role of intentional communities - grounded in more than just monetary (math-based) ties as no longer countercultural - but as soaring models of lasting, deepening and real social progress in a new millennium.
Born in Germany, Nathan Batalion was a math prodigy, having passed calculus
exams at the age of 13. Later, at 17, he experienced altered states or a glimpse
into another weave of nature. He is currently an Assistant Professor at Hartwick
College, (Oneonta, New York) - teaching courses on business and environmental
issues. Among several careers, he has studied oriental medicine and was founder
of an alternative cancer treatment center in Arizona.
Saulo Xavier Batista
Communal living attempts to create a better, more holistic way of life. If not
utopia, then at least it offers something much better than the hegemonic, high-consumption
lifestyles which result from the dominant paradigm. Large groups of unhappy
people are trying to create alternative movements and lifestyles.
Strong evidence indicates that industrial society is inexorably moving towards a global, ecological crisis. Environmental disasters already take place in the industrialized world, with recurrent social crises in the less-industrialized world. In future, the impact will be felt everywhere. There will be no escape from crisis within the dominant paradigms, only a perpetual shift from one type of crisis to another.
There is a window of opportunity for intentional communities, with their alternative paradigms, to assume a more important social role around the globe. It is, however, notoriously difficult for alternative paradigms to become dominant.
Historical attempts to understand dominant paradigms have reached the conclusion that the problem lies within the paradigm itself where individualism, competition, heteronomy and materialism predominate.
Communal groups move towards autonomy and the collective ownership of resources in order to prevent conflict and competition. They search for new ways of thinking, based on more integrative values, through intuition, holism and non-linear synthesis. They accept new values in order to foster equality, cooperation, conservation and sharing. These factors shift people toward intentional community, social activism and a more spiritual lifestyle.
Through globalization, nations can no longer control their own destinies, thereby creating a different type of crisis. Communal living, with its emphasis on autonomy and freedom from dominant paradigms, offers a better life in this "new world".
Professor Saulo Xavier Batista, Social Communication Department, University
of State of Paraíba, Brazil, has degrees in economics, history, sociology
and politics. He has researched and published on globalization and its social
and environmental consequences, as well as individual and social psycho-somatic
health, philosophy and environment. He is now researching communal living in
Brazil, Europe and North America.
Each member of the Federation of Egalitarian Communities, in USA, shares income,
expenses and property, but there are significant differences between them.
Each FEC community asks its members to give the majority of their labor to the community while they are in residence. Labor is assigned to specific tasks in some cases, while self-directed in others.
I will describe the variety of ways that each of the FEC communities asks its members to share their previously acquired assets, and the exceptions we sometimes make.
We are committed to providing for the needs of our members. Shelter, food, clothing and basic health care are our major foci. There are challenges to providing health care the way we would like to, but I will describe how we make it work through our FEC joint medical fund.
We also strive to support our members doing enriching things in their lives such as travel, education, personal growth, art and music. We try to share the expenses for these matters as best we can.
Flame Bilyue' has been a member of Acorn community, a neighbour and daughter community of the well-known Twin Oaks, in USA, for the past five years, and is active within the Federation of Egalitarian Communities. She is a bisexual, polyamorous mother of two boys, Zack twelve years old and Sage seven years old. Her two partners, Ken and Raven, share parenting and homeschooling. Art and holistic healing is a great passion of hers. Sharing with others about personal growth and world transformation is her main focus in life.
The inspiring principle of an ecovillage is the concept of sustainability.
It means a lifestyle that provides a high quality of life without taking more
from the earth than it gives back, and which can therefore be continued into
the indefinite future without depleting the resources available for future generations.
Traditional lifestyles all over the world are rooted in sustainable social and
agricultural practices, and thousands of people across the globe have for the
past decades dedicated themselves to maintaining and recreating examples of
Members of all intentional communities share an intention, a common purpose, be it an ideal (religious, philosophical, political) or practical (work, construction of buildings, education of children, nutrition) purpose. But an intentional community is not necessarily an ecovillage because it may have little or nothing to do with ecology and sustainability.
An ecovillage is an intentional, sustainable community in a rural, urban or sub-urban area. It can be, and often is, the natural evolution of an intentional community when the inhabitants learn and accept the charming and attractive concept of ecological living.
An ecovillage can greatly vary in size. It has aspects of an intentional community and some of the features of a normal village such as a shop or similar food outlet, some production of foods and goods for its own use and for export, its own membership and decision-making body, and a planning process often based on Permaculture principles. Ecological, social and cultural/spiritual factors play an important role in varying degrees from one ecovillage to the other, according to the inclination of its inhabitants.
We can say that an ecovillage has holistic aims, even if it has not yet reached the ultimate perfection. The concept of sustainability is a core value, and although we certainly cannot yet say that all ecovillages are 100% ecological or sustainable, the general trend is strongly in this direction and improvements are constant, on a path towards greater self-knowledge and self-fulfilment.
Lucilla Borio is a member of Ecovillage Torri Superiore, in Italy, and is the
Secretary of GEN-Europe. GEN is the Global Ecovillage Network, including ecovillages
from around the globe.
Noyana has forty adults, between 25 and 35 years-old, and six very young children.
Most of us met as a youth-group at ZEGG. There, we found that the normal problems
between generations were causing conflict, so we left ZEGG and became independent.
We called ourselves Noyana' because we often sang the song "Noyana nitini pezulu" which means "We are all together on the way to paradise". We thought that was a good theme for us.
Noyana consists of two houses, near Cologne, where seventeen adults and five children live together. The rest of us are spread over Germany. We all plan to live together in the next two years. Until then, we meet four times a year. What keeps us together isn't a charismatic leader, a religious belief or a political goal, but a kind of spirit which is the glue of our community.
We use the Forum technique, as at ZEGG. Some members are Sannyasins who have brought us meditation. Others have created "Open Space" where anybody can invite everyone to do something together, and the task for the facilitator is to organise this.
Some of Noyana's goals are a freed love, sustainable business, empowerment of each person, spiritual work, transparent structures, etc. Noyana is about a love of life, having many deep relationships and wonderful friendships. We co-operate with other communities such as ZEGG, Stamm Füssen and Tamera. We seek co-operation with intentional communities all over the world.
Dorothee Bornath is a 34 Year old environmental engineer. She also works as
moderator and coach with both single people and with small and large groups,
helping with their personal change processes. She has lived at Noyana for the
past four years.
Previous theories on communal longevity, such as R.M. Kanter's work, have either
concentrated on a temporally or geographically restricted sample, or have postulated
factors such as commitment that cannot be measured directly. Based on a broad
sample of 43 North American, European and Japanese, fully property-sharing communes
from the 19th and 20th centuries, I offer a new approach that concentrates on
social structural features. It also distinguishes between the total life span
and the healthy', non-apathetic life span of the case studies, and takes
their future prospects into account.
Under these premises, it can be shown that a charismatic founder-leader, believed to have supernatural features and/or being accorded far-ranging privileges, restricts the healthy' life span to his/her own term of office. Less dominant founder-leaders or the absence of leaders, by contrast, allow for a broader range of duration. Longevity is achieved with both religious and secular ideologies. This, however, must be a religion that strictly separates sacred/good from profane/bad, or a secular ideology that emphasizes tolerance and individual freedom. A federative structure in which branches of roughly equal size support and control each other, a size between 75 and 500 persons per settlement, and monogamous marriage and family life instead of celibacy or group marriage/free love are also conducive to longevity, especially when healthy' survival instead of just lingering on is concerned.
Dr Christoph Brumann lectures in Anthropology at the University of Cologne. For his PhD, he researched the survival conditions of communes. This was a comparative study of 19th and 20th century communes, including several in Japan as well the Hutterites, Shakers, kibbutzim, Oneida, Twin Oaks and others. It has been published as Die Kunst des Teilens: Eine vergleichende Studie zu den Überlebensbedingungen kommunitärer Gruppen, Hamburg: Lit 1998.
Almost every aspect of life on the British Isles has been influenced by what
might be called the Utopian Tendency' - from the shoes we walk in, the
clothes we wear, the layout of our houses, the plans of our towns, our system
of education, our public institutions, our political system, our forms of religious
worship, art, architecture all have been touched and moulded by individuals
and groups who have had a vision of a better world and tried to put it into
The history of Britain is peppered with utopian experiments from the radical sects of the 17th century, through the rise of democracy and socialism, up to the Garden Cities Movement, Land Settlement Schemes, and the Welfare State of the 20th Century. In each era, the experiments have taken the form of intentional communities, often communal, attracting and influencing many individuals who would then go on to play leading roles in society. Only by taking a broad overview of the variety, strength and effect of these experiments can one see their impact on society. Oscar Wilde was correct when he said, "Progress is the realisation of Utopias".
My book, Utopia Britannica : A History of Utopian Experiments, will be published in June 2001, by Diggers & Dreamers Publications, UK.
It contains sections on Dissenters' Paradise, Islands of Socialism, The Old New Age, Artistic Visionaries, and Utopia for Everyone, as well as a comprehensive gazetteer of 500+ utopian experiments.
Chris Coates has lived in a small UK commune for the past twenty years. He has been a member of the editorial collective of Diggers & Dreamers, the UK Directory and Journal of Intentional Communities, for the twelve years of it's existence. He works as a community environmental builder in between research and writing projects. His latest literary endeavour is Utopia Britannica, a history of utopian experiments in UK.
This paper addresses the issue of sustainability from the perspective of communities
seeking to live beyond one generation. Success through longevity is vital for
the merging of social and ecological sustainability. It is not enough to say
we learnt, we grew and we moved on.
This paper is in line with Max Weber's view that communities which survive through time evolve from charisma to an intentional organisational phase, and then towards an embedded culture. This culture is then challenged as part of community regeneration.
For social as well as ecological sustainability, there needs to be both change and continuity. The challenge is how to engage in these processes in a way that honours the past while being open to the future. Can the structures and processes of intentional community ensure that each member (young and old) connects with both dimensions?
The cause of sustainability is not furthered if the old or the new opt out of this dialectic. It is vital that we ensure old lessons are honoured and new possibilities explored. To survive and live fully, a community needs to work directly with the social inevitability, even necessity, of conflict while recognising that it has to be used creatively to generate new possibilities.
I will address these issues through the example of Moora Moora Community, one of a number of surviving 1970's communities in Australia. Moora Moora is working through the challenge of intergenerational change, and we have grappled with a whole array of issues. The trouble is that 25 years into our communal experience, life is settling down, stable patterns have been established - we can breathe and enjoy the present. The time for deferred gratification is over. We are who we are and we have done the best we could. We are not perfect but we have made it through over a generation, while most haven't.
But then one fine morning we wake up to find that we are in our 50s, our community is ageing, tired and worn. We have to face the challenge of intergenerational change - something we know little about. It is a struggle to keep change and stability in each member's mind as a constructive part of community living.
Dr Peter Cock is a resident member and co-founder of Moora Moora Cooperative
Community, and Senior Lecturer in the Graduate School of Environmental Science
at Monash University, Australia.
This paper seeks to examine some variables which may be of import relative to what seems to be an increasing state of ennui in many members of our society. Recent research in evolutionary psychology suggests a mismatch between present social conditions and human psycho-physical well being. The general matrix of contemporary social life (the society at large) appears to be problematic for the optimal expression of psychological and physical well being for numerous individuals. One of the dilemmas this information presents is that changing institutions at the macro level is extremely difficult. However, individuals can begin to thoughtfully articulate micro level lifestyle changes so as to see if certain patterns of living are more fulfilling for them personally. This paper suggests certain parameters in forming small fictive kin groups which might be useful in creating such remediating institutions.
Dr Richard Coon is Associate Professor of Sociology at Carroll College, Wisconsin, USA. He practices a social change oriented, proactive form of sociology, working with students to help them envision new ways to live in and relate to the world. As part of this, he has created courses and programs on reconfiguring small group social life. He has taken students on numerous eco-social field trips in USA and Belize, introducing them to permacultural and indigenous ways of living. This year he will take students to intentional communities on a course entitled New Tribes for the 21st Century'.
The Findhorn Community, that remarkable garden and spiritual centre created
by Peter & Eileen Caddy and Dorothy Maclean in northern Scotland has now
been with us for 38 years, and continues to grow and prosper. In contrast, the
Findhorn Foundation, a legal, charitable trust, has been around for 28 years.
The former is growing while the latter is shrinking but still holds title to
most of the community's assets, and has control over them.
Findhorn is probably the best known intentional community, attracts thousands of visitors every year, and has served as the model of spiritual, communal living in many countries around the world. There have been many attempts to reproduce Findhorn by other would-be communal groups. Findhorn is sometimes seen as the archetypal new-age' community.
Some communal scholars, and even some Findhorn community residents, wonder if Findhorn is losing its communal birth right, indeed its communal soul, as it negotiates the path towards prosperity and making the place work more efficiently.
Such queries raise fascinating issues about human nature, communism and privatisation, even capitalism and globalisation.
I will present an update on where our community is now and where we are headed. I will argue that Findhorn remains an inspiring example of both localisation and globalisation - with soul galore.
Dr Roger Doudna joined the Findhorn Community 26 years ago. At Findhorn he
has coordinated seven international conferences, instigated a Whisky Barrel'
cluster of innovative, re-cycled homes, and is deeply involved in community
life. He runs the Findhorn Foundation Fellowship and an international campaign
petitioning the United Nations to Restore the Earth'.
This is a report and a provocative argument from a journalist who has lived
in and visited many intentional communities, focussing on the situation of women.
The author asserts:
1. Creating Community is a Female Ability.
Women build the emotional base of many intentional communities. Most of the time, women are the ones who make members share their feelings, emotional needs and thoughts. In ancient times, when tribes, matriarchal cities and grand families had clan mothers at their core, society was less violent (e.g. Kreta, Malta, Catal Hüyük etc.). The clan mothers governed not with suppression but with gentle and caring power and authority.
2. Intentional Community is a Base for Woman-Power and Gender Balance.
Intentional community is where female abilities are honoured and can be learned without gender fights. These abilities include emotional intelligence, creative communication, intuition, sense of beauty and equality, balance and variety. In communities, these abilities can be shared among women, and with men in everyday life.
3. Intentional Community Facilitates New Gender Roles.
Women with the above-mentioned abilities become the attraction-points' and core members of any intentional community. Caring for children and family, love affairs etc., are no longer just domestic business', but a part of her growing responsibility and knowledge.
4. Communities need solidarity among women. Solidarity among women needs community.
The everyday solidarity among women is the glue' of communities. Women can provide each other with emotional warmness, communication, truth and tenderness. Women in communities use this emotional security to talk freely about personal matters, to exercise gentle power', and to take responsibility.
Leila Dregger, journalist and writer, has been living in communities, including ZEGG and Tamera, for the last fifteen years. She has visited many intentional communities in Australia, New Zealand, Israel and Europe. She founded the ZEGG Magazine, and was Editor-in-Chief of the Eurotopia - Living in Community - Magazine. She is a founding member of Gentler Power - a networking group of women within intentional communities.
The ongoing tension and interplay between educational theory and practice over
almost 90 years of kibbutz education is analyzed in my comprehensive book: The
History of Kibbutz Education Practice into Theory (Peter Lang, 2001).
The chapters are: 1) A historical introduction; 2) The theory of communal / cooperative education; 3) The parental home and the children's house; 4) The formal education system; 5) The children's' and youth society'; 6) The kibbutz youth movements; 7) Kibbutz educational systems - local, central and regional; 8) Conclusion: Research and historical evaluation of cooperative education.
The educational theory vs. practice perspective is directly addressed in the last chapter, with six main mechanisms being identified which help to bring kibbutz educational theories and utopian theory into line with reality.
These mechanisms, which will be the subject of this presentation, are relevant to any communal group worldwide. They will be exemplified by the phenomenon of kibbutz young adulthood (prolonged youth movements for 20-30 year olds)
Professor Yuval Dror is a member in kibbutz Hamadia, and a faculty member in
the School of Education at Tel Aviv University. His areas of specialization
are history of education and kibbutz education. He edited "Innovative approaches
in working with children and youth: New lessons from the kibbutz" - a Special
Issue [22 (1/2), 2000] of Child & Youth Services [and also a book, published
by Haworth Press, New York].
I believe that people who live communally have known each other in former lives.
This is called a "karmic relationship". I seek to examine if this
is so, and learn how a community can profit by understanding this "karmic
It is not chance when a person comes to a community. Sometimes, people have searched their whole life for other human beings who suit them. When they come to the right place, it is immediately clear that here is where they belong.
Why is this so ? Why do we like some people at once but can't stand others? Perhaps our former lives are influencing our feeling and actions?
Tibetan monks find their next spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, by searching for children who were born about when the old Dalai Lama died. They apply difficult tests on them, and thereby find the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. The same process operates with high Lamas.
Something like this also applies in intentional communities. Not only can new members be discovered this way but many problems between community members can be solved through this understanding. Our inter-personal problems come not only from this life, but also from our former lives.
My dream is to examine intentional communities all over the world, and find which members have formerly lived together. I am trained in reincarnation-therapy, and am able to lead people into a trance wherein they can discover their former lives. This is possible with one person or with a group. Now I am looking for communities who are interested in spiritual work with reincarnation.
Markus Euler, 32 years old, is a member of Noyana community, Germany, a group inspired by ZEGG. He has trained in Reincarnation Therapy, and is currently completing studies at University of Frankfurt. His studies and personal development lead him to believe in free love' (liberated love) and open relationships, and he is working for this in his communal endeavours.
This paper examines how opportunities for cohousing neighbourhoods, new housing
co-operatives, self-build schemes, and low impact, ecological projects are all
marginalised by the centralised structures that govern the use of state finances
in the UK. Professionals have monopolised resources for building and property
development, either through an adherence to a market-led property philosophy
or to a centralised bureaucratic one. This has resulted in housing and property
schemes being biased towards top-down' planning frameworks, with little
appreciation of how to support community dynamics.
Keen interest does exist for creating new neighbourhood communities', particularly where these could be a mixture of property for sale and property for rent. Community groups are struggling, however, from a lack of the community development skills needed to organise themselves and to challenge the frameworks noted above. The progress of some groups is also stalling from an inexperience in working collectively towards common goals. The development of some recent cohousing communities in the UK has resulted from private enterprise, and is limited to families with enough private finances to join. The danger here is that people are already demonstrating a priority toward individual investment concerns rather than to the community's long-term stability.
The paper looks at these issues and develops ways to foster a more sustainable development dynamic' for aspiring community groups. It also argues that a new vision is required to promote cohousing and other intentional communities, if they are to compete for public property development funds. In this way, opportunities can be harnessed to incorporate real communal developments within modern urban villages' and other mainstream urban settlements.
Martin Field is currently Housing Policy and Development Manager with Leicester City Council in the UK. His work and background includes housing associations, co-operatives, urban regeneration programmes, self-build and cohousing projects, plus living in a housing co-op for five years. A PhD is gradually taking shape about intentional neighbourhood communities'.
Prof. Dr. Maria Fölling-Albers
Prof. Dr. Werner Fölling
The Israeli kibbutzim were established as secular communes by groups of mainly
young men, with a minority of women. They were motivated by the ideologies of
Zionism and anarchistic Socialism which they internalized in an intensive process
of self-education. Their lifestyle was ascetic, similar in some ways to early
In that pioneer generation, ideological convictions were identical with the convictions of a specific age-group or generation. This sociological constellation is quite different from other societies where there is more or less an intergenerational transmission and mixing of convictions and lifestyles.
Kibbutz pioneers educated their children with the aim of creating a new type of human who would naturally' acquire the ability to live in community, and who would maintain their communal beliefs. These pioneers' self-identity stemmed from the practical realization of their ideals. Contrary to their expectations, however, this self-identity couldn't be transferred to the next generation. Changing conditions of kibbutz life and the influence of the surrounding society were stronger than their intensive socialization - particularly as they had refrained from brainwashing, and accepted individual freedom.
The contemporary crisis of the kibbutz shows that free and secular, equalitarian communes can not continue only through their own offspring. Instead, they must develop new ideals and living conditions which appeal to non-communards, and attract them to become members. Trying to hand a communal way of life to the next generation by social pragmatism is counterproductive because the anti-equalitarian majority tries to get rid of the egalitarian principals of the commune through privatisation. The tragedy of kibbutzim today is that not only their communal offspring want to change the ideology of their parents, but a majority of the second and especially the third generation refuse to continue the collective way of life.
Our research shows that there are considerable differences between first and second generation communards' attitudes towards the kibbutz, and that this accelerates the transformation process. The ultimate end of that transformation is not clear.
Dr Maria Fölling-Albers is Professor for Elementary Education at University
of Regensburg, Germany. She is researching aspects of kibbutz education.
Dr Werner Fölling is Professor for Education at the Technical University of Dresden, Germany. His fields of research are theory of education, kibbutz history and education, and education within former German Jewish communities.
Peter M. Forster
People interact in diverse ways on the internet - can a sense of community be
a part of that experience? Concerns are often expressed about the negative aspects
of the internet: the easy access to pornography by young people; the proliferation
of unwanted commercial e-mail (spam); the flame wars etc. In this paper, more
positive experiences of mutual support, a sense of belonging and community are
Participants in a number of different types of internet groups report positive experiences. These include participants in usenet groups, e-mail lists, internet relay chat and other chat groups, and internet game groups.
Features of groups that promote positive, communal experiences are described, such as size, the presence of moderators, the function of the group, methods of handling conflict and the characteristics of participants. Internet groups created by existing intentional communities and the quality of experience that they generate, are also described.
For some people, the internet groups in which they participate have become important (and in some cases their most important) sources of a sense of community, of belonging and of relating positively to others. Evidence suggests that virtual communities are satisfying the same need for community that f2f (face-to-face) contact provides for those who lack internet access.
Participants go through the same processes of community formation, gaining acceptance, dealing with conflict, enjoying community spirit' and communal activities, grief over community breakdown or leaving community, as do community members characterised by physical proximity. Communities in cyberspace are here now and they are growing rapidly.
Dr Peter M Forster is senior lecturer in psychology at the University of the
South Pacific, Fiji. He has published several papers in Communal Studies. Previously,
he was a member of the Findhorn Bay Community in Scotland, and was an originator
of that community's internet connection and web site. In his spare time he is
a scuba diving instructor, interested in marine conservation.
Cláudia Andreoli Galvão
Communal values, arising from belonging to the same group, create a deep belief
in intellectual abilities, initiative, trust, strong will, dedication to work,
flexibility, creativity, solidarity, reciprocity, moral obligation, duty toward
community, organisational capacity, and acceptance of risk.
These supportive community values are found in industrial districts. In the ideal industrial district model, the individual firm does not see survival and success in terms of a fight with rivals - rather the emphasis is on collective growth. District success means individual success. The same social and cultural relations within communal groups enable industries to develop economies of scale, efficiency, creativity and flexible specialisation.
In Sinos and Paranhana Valley, industrial clusters in Brazil, relations between enterprises are grounded in social and cultural relations, building up trust and co-operative attitudes which are shared by the community. In these manufacturing complexes, there is a high degree of trust. To help each other is the rule, not the exception, and information and organisation are shared. Social cohesion is extremely positive for industrial districts. Social embeddedness reduces the opportunistic behaviour common in ordinary markets.
This paper analyses the role of communal values in shaping the way of doing business in industrial districts; trust and confidence building, the link between social and economic change, social embeddedness, and community participation and governance. Examples of industrial districts in Brazil and Italy stress the relationship between community values and economic performance.
Dr Cláudia Andreoli Galvão, of University of Brasilia, Brazil, teaches Regional Geography, and Economic and Human Geography. Her Ph.D. in Economics is from Sheffield University, England. Her diverse fields of research are industrial districts, decentralised industrialisation, socioeconomics and governance, enterprise policies, and medical geography.
The Israeli kibbutz movement has changed and adapted throughout the 90 years
of its existence, but the past decade has seen much more radical changes. Following
an economic breakdown affecting a majority of the kibbutzim, the values of cooperation
and equality are being largely abandoned. Because there are significant differences
in the responses of individual kibbutzim to the crisis, it was resolved to examine
ten kibbutzim, illustrative of the different approaches being implemented. The
results of this I have presented in my book, The Kibbutz: Awakening From Utopia.
Degania, the first kibbutz, is moving cautiously to change many features of its way of life. Givat Brenner, a large kibbutz, is in the process of implementing a number of radical changes. Hasollelim has made a drastic break with egalitarianism, introducing a "normal" wage structure. Neve Yam, is currently administered by an appointed committee, after experiencing economic collapse. Hatzerim, a successful traditional kibbutz, has not made any basic changes, but the equally successful Maagan Michael has implemented a "virtual" revolution. Kfar Ruppin has adopted a capitalist structure, while retaining (for the time being) a relatively egalitarian life style. Ein Tzurim, a religious kibbutz, is not immune to the changes sweeping the kibbutz movement. Tamuz, an urban commune, and Samar in the far south, are two attempts, mainly by kibbutz-raised children, to improve the traditional kibbutz structure.
For the most part, today's kibbutz members no longer accept the egalitarian and communal ideals of the founding generation. While some communal forms will continue to exist, as they do in most modern societies, a strong, influential Kibbutz Movement will no longer be a central feature of Israeli society. Israeli society developed as a uniquely cooperative enterprise, with a powerful communal movement at its core. In recent years, reflecting world trends, it has become less idealistic and more individualistic.
The kibbutz was the creation of a certain time and set of circumstances; it has not been able to survive the march of time and the concomitant changing conditions of its environment.
Daniel Gavron lives in Israel. Brief membership of both a kibbutz and a moshav
shitufi (cooperative village) was followed by a careeer in journalism and broadcasting.
He is the author of seven books, including (most recently) The Kibbutz Awakening
Many studies have attempted to identify the conditions that must be fulfilled
for the long-term survival of intentional communities, since Kanter's famous
book Commitment and Community (1972), but few studies try to explain why some
communal groups remain small for decades, while others attract thousands of
members within a few years of their foundation.
As important as this question is, there is a major obstacle to a comparative study which aims at identifying the common design principles of large communal groups. Data should be collected from the wide range of large communal groups, to avoid bias, yet there has been no census of those groups.
For this purpose, I have researched large intentional communities worldwide, i.e. umbrella organizations and networks, each of which has at least 100 residents. The results have been published on the web. This directory changes as new information becomes available. To date, this directory includes detailed entries for 161 groups of intentional communities that represent about 3,980 separate communities, with a total population of over 300,000 residents.
This talk will provide information about this project, from the working definition of intentional community', the data collection process, the contents of the directory, a statistical analysis of some recorded characteristics, and a discussion of future developments.
Ralf Gering graduated from Tübingen University, Germany, in 1999 with
an MA in Cultural Studies and Religious Studies, and is now doing research in
medical sociology and large communal societies. He is the founder and co-moderator
of the international web discussion forum, INTENTIONALCOMMUNITIES, which has
more than 140 members. Over the past decade, he has visited more than 200 intentional
communities in Europe and North America.
The success of the first generation of the communal settlements in Israel has
been considered from sociological, historical and psychological points of view.
Less attention has been given to external influences upon the success of these
settlements, and to what extent the help and well-wishing of political movements
outside those settlements determined their fate. This paper shows how this interplay
came into being, and asks if it is a unique phenomenon.
Arthur Ruppin played an significant part in changing the character of the communal group in Um-Djuni (Degania) from a provisional arrangement to a permanent, communal settlement. His efforts were as decisive as the communal ideology of the settlers. Ruppin was motivated to solve the difficult problem of settling the land with pioneers who lacked the skill and capital to become self-supporting farmers. He was also critical of the existing society and its economical and political system. Ruppin was ready to lend a supporting hand to any reasonable project trying new and better forms of society.
Another factor in the initial success of the Kibbutz Movement was the support of the Labour Movement which considered it to be its flagship, and leading members of the Kibbutz Movement were active in the Labour Movement. The kibbutz form of settlement also proved to be very efficient in solving security and economical problems facing the settlers of Israel at that time.
Dr Yacob Goren is an historian in the Department of History at Yad Tabenkin, Israel. Born in Germany in 1925, he immigrated to Palestine in 1933, and has been a member of Kibbutz Ginossar since 1948. He has just completed a biography of Arthur Ruppin which will be published by Yad Tabenkin in 2001. Yacob Goren is also the author of: Israel Bar-Yehuda, Emissary of the Movement, 1992, Berl Reptur, Vision in Everyday Life, 1995, and Dov Hos - A Pre-State Statesman, 1999.
We are living in the most challenging, yet also the most promising era of human
history. Our dominant global culture seems very much like the Titanic --a gigantic
human enterprise headed for certain disaster unless its course is significantly
altered. Fortunately, as deep ecologist Joanna Macy would say, we have already
begun this "Great Turning". Like lifeboats that have jumped
ship' in search of verdant lands, thousands of ecovillages around the world
are discovering and pioneering social and ecological systems that offer positive
visions for humanity and the planet. Together, these intentional communities
are truly part of an emerging, sustainable culture.
We now need to create new models of education that support this emerging culture. This is the vision behind Living Routes - Ecovillage Education Consortium - to develop ecovillage-based educational programs that empower participants to help build a sustainable future. Living Routes is working closely with a growing consortium of ecovillages, academic institutions (including Cornell University, University of New Hampshire, and Pacific Lutheran University), and other organizations to create globally connected, yet regionally developed programs.
Our current programs include: Geo Communities Semester (Plum Village, France; Auroville, India; Sirius, USA); Findhorn Community Semester (Findhorn Community, Scotland); Crystal Waters January Program (Crystal Waters Permaculture Village, Australia); and Summer Institute in Sustainable Living (Sirius and EcoVillage at Ithaca, USA).
In all Living Routes programs, students create their own learning communities' within living communities', as they blend experiential and academic activities into an integrated whole. Ecovillages represent a world of opportunities for students to literally bring their education to life.
Dr Daniel Greenberg visited and corresponded with over 200 U.S. intentional communities for his Ph.D. dissertation on children and education in community, and later spent a year at the Findhorn Foundation, working in adult education. He helped develop and direct the Geocommons College Program, bringing students to intentional communities worldwide. He is Executive Director of Living Routes, and lives at Sirius Community, USA.
The architect Paolo Soleri's arcology concept (architecture + ecology) proposes
the design of highly integrated and compact urban structures that would stand
in opposition to urban sprawl with its inherently wasteful consumption of land,
energy, time and human resources. Communities inhabiting such structures would
adopt collective procedures involving material recycling, waste reduction and
the use of renewable energy sources as part of a sustainable strategy aimed
at reducing the flow of resources and energy through the habitat.
As governments, eager to deliver major environmental improvements, press on with as yet untried and untested centrist' policies of urban living, there is a need to research relevant models of the compact city' approach. Issues involved with intensification in the use of space, higher residential densities, centralisation, compactness, the integration of land uses and aspects of self-containment need to be examined. Over the last ten years, as the criteria of sustainability have become more widely accepted and understood, the relevance of Soleri's urban model has become clearer.
Arcosanti, in Arizona, begun in 1970, offers a laboratory for testing the validity of Soleri's ideas. This paper will critically review arcology and Arcosanti within the context of the discourse on sustainability. Since the energy crisis of the mid 1970s, efforts at Arcosanti have been directed toward the definition and testing of various architectural effects on a community-wide scale that could offer a response to many of today's environmental problems.
But progress is painstakingly slow. Lacking the level of funding and resources that would enable it to be convincing, Arcosanti now represents not so much a specific prototypal solution, but an activist-engaged strategy that advocates the possibility of building our dreams and visions. In a world plagued by so many problems and so few alternatives, it nevertheless continues to offer a beacon of hope on the threshold of a new millennium.
Dr David Grierson, of University of Strathclyde, UK, lived and worked for some
years at Arcosanti, an intentional community in Arizona, USA, and this formed
an important part of his recently completed doctoral research. He currently
runs the ecology and sustainability unit at the Department of Architecture in
Silke Hagmaier and Eva Stützel
Ökodorf Sieben Linden is an intentional community of 50 people, on 22 hectares of land near the village Poppau, Germany. The property has forests and arable land as well as a barn and house. We try to demonstrate how all aspects of daily life (housing, working, growing food, waste disposal and culture) can be integrated harmoniously into ecological cycles.
Ökodorf Sieben Linden is planned as a living and working space for 300 people of all age groups, all social backgrounds and all cultures. The ecovillage will be harmoniously adapted to the natural environment over a sustained period of time, enabling its inhabitants to live self-sufficiently and with self-responsibility.
We have finished the first houses for 22 inhabitants, while the rest of us live in caravans. We have a seminar center with bedrooms for 15 guests, community kitchen and library, a reed-bed sewage system, lake, pottery, Cafe/pub, an amphitheatre for cultural events, and a barn for our work-horses. Other projects, like Germany's first legal straw-bale-family-home, are on the way.
Good communication, transparency, trust, love and tolerance between members are as important as ecological questions. We learn from other communities about their methods of creating social harmony one important inspiration being ZEGG.
Ökodorf Sieben Linden is connected to similar groups in Germany, Europe and the rest of the World, through networks like GEN (Global Ecovillage Network) and the "Come Together", which was founded by us in 1994.
Silke Hagmaier is a founding member of Ökodorf Sieben Linden, and the Come Together network, and has lived communally since 1993. She is co-editor and publisher of Eurotopia, and was formerly the administrator of Come Together, a board member of ICSA, and a council member of GEN-Europe.
Eva Stützel, a professional psychologist, is a founding member of the cooperative that organizes and executes the collective goals of the ecovillage Ökodorf Sieben Linden. She has lives and worked there since 1993.
Silke Hagmaier and Dieter Federlein
Eurotopia is the 414 page directory for community living in Europe. It gives addresses and the characteristics of 336 intentional communities in 23 European countries. These 336 examples demonstrate a wide range of communal living - Living Visions in Europe! Communities describe their work and interests, along with their locations, goals and dreams. It provides a lively insight into a way of life which is attracting more people every day. Despite a great diversity of social, political, economic, spiritual and ecological values, they all share a commitment to exploring more communal ways of living.
This information was gathered during 1999 and 2000, then translated into English. Eurotopia has the largest European database for communal living, with roughly 2500 entries, 1500 or more being communes, intentional communities and ecovillages (www.eurotopia.de).
Eurotopia also has articles on communal living, descriptions of 24 community-related
networks, useful addresses, a recommended reading list and a detailed index.
Eurotopia grew out of COME TOGETHER, an association of 40 intentional communities, mostly in Germany. Our communities range from those with a collective treasury to environmental settlements organized among neighbours. We tackle issues such as the personal emancipation of an individual, environmental and ecological technology, and new forms of spirituality.
Members believe the environmental crisis is inseparably connected to the increasing destruction of social relationships. Therefore, to resolve the environmental crisis, we not only need to develop new technologies but also new social spaces and structures in which a person's activities and experiences can be lived in a meaningful way. Despite our members' different activities and approaches, the attempt to integrate social and environmental goals unites us.
Our principles for a socially and ecologically meaningful way of life are:
All members have equal power and influence on decisions.
Ethical values are the criteria for daily life and economy.
Each person is responsible for a just planet, free from violence.
Silke Hagmaier is a founding member of Ökodorf Sieben Linden, and the Come Together network, and has lived communally since 1993. She is co-editor and publisher of Eurotopia, and was formerly the administrator of Come Together, a board member of ICSA, and a council member of GEN-Europe.
Dieter Federlein co-founded Lebensgut Pommritz, one of Germany's best known intentional communities. He is administrator of the COME TOGETHER network, and a long term community member.
After ten years of economic restructuring, Agricultural Producer Cooperatives
still dominate many areas of agricultural production in Central and Eastern
Europe. These communal ventures still operate successfully even though, earlier
in the economic, political and social transition from communism to capitalism,
many western economists and social scientists had forecasted their rapid demise.
In this talk I will give an overview of the development of Agricultural Producer Cooperatives in selected eastern European countries during the last ten years. Summarizing the results of recent empirical studies in Bulgaria, The Czech Republic and east Germany, my work tries to answer the question of why these structures have resisted the pressure to disappear, what might be their success or failure in the near future, and why.
Markus Hanisch graduated from Humboldt-University, Berlin, as an Agricultural Economist. He is Manager of the Institute for Co-operative Studies Berlin (www.agrar.hu-berlin.de/genossenschaftswesen), a private research institute at Humboldt University. His research focuses on the transition process in Central and Eastern Europe, with special emphasis on rural development issues in the Balkans. Some of his publications are: Institutional Analysis and Institutional Change What to learn from the Case of Bulgarian Land Reform (1999); and A Rent-Seeking Model for Analyzing a Failed Agricultural Reform (2000)
This paper draws on the author's work on nineteenth and early twentieth-century utopian communities, and is based on an analysis of why and how motives for community formation change over time.
Utopian ideas and community formation do not arise in a vacuum. Invariably they represent a response to prevailing circumstances in mainstream society. Thus, it is reasonable to expect that as circumstances change so too will the nature of the response. This theme is explored through the evidence of three types of experiment that occurred in both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in England. The three types are those associated with a back to the land' movement; those which sought to create heaven on earth; and those which were fired primarily by a political agenda.
Back to the Land': as a mirror image of a country where 80% of the population was urbanised by 1900, there was a persistent drive to return' to the land. The nineteenth century community experiments under this rubric were more ideologically based than in the twentieth century, seeing the land as a source of moral as well as physical regeneration.
Heaven on Earth': religion has been a consistent force in community formation, sometimes in the form of quiet contemplation, at other times more spontaneous and threatening to the status quo. There are examples of both in the two centuries in question, with a tendency towards the more spontaneous and cataclysmic in the earlier period.
Changing the Agenda': community formation is a source of political change in itself for those who participate, but may also be used as a means to achieve more extensive change in society as a whole. In the nineteenth century there were fewer mainstream opportunities for political change than in the following century, so that in the former the evidence of community experiments with a more inclusive agenda is much stronger.
On the basis of reviewing the nature of links between circumstances and community formation, there are grounds for anticipating future trends.
Dr Dennis Hardy, a professor at Middlesex University, UK, has written various books on utopian and environmental planning history, his latest being Utopian England.
My paper challenges the view that improving the efficiency of resource use,
particularly energy, will lead to a reduction in national consumption, and hence
is an effective policy for reducing environmental impacts. Improving efficiency
lowers the implicit price of a product and hence make it more affordable, thus
leading to greater use. While greater resource efficiency will save consumers
money, and promote a more efficient and prosperous economy, it will not save
the world. It is a means, not an end.
My paper brings economists', and other disciplines', criticism of efficiency policies to green' believers. Hopefully it will stimulate debate about the role of efficiency in reducing environmental damage, and move the debate beyond narrow economic concerns to wider cultural and social issues.
Although most of the criticism of the claims about efficiency have come from economists, there is now a critique based on conservation ethics' which argues that what is needed for sustainability is not more efficiency (which leads to greater consumption) but less consumption.
My paper concentrates on energy use, and argues that the goal should be less CO2 emissions, not less energy use. In the short term, we need to shift from fossil fuels, particularly coal, toward less carbon-intensive fuels such as gas, and ultimately towards non-fossil fuels such as renewable and nuclear. In order to encourage this shift, we need carbon, not energy taxes. Our goal should not be taxing energy so that we use less, but raising money to subsidise non-fossil fuels and the planting forests.
To limit energy consumption, we need a policy of energy sufficiency or energy conservation. We need to de-link economic growth from resource consumption, and adopt a policy of sufficiency' which is living well on less. .
A key element of this policy is to move away from single households to communal living, because shared living spaces use far less energy and other materials.
Horace Herring lived in a small commune in Brighton, England in the mid 1970s,
and developed an interest in energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy.
For the last 20 years he has been studying how and why societies use energy,
and what can be done to reduce energy consumption. He is a Research Fellow at
the Open University, UK.
The 20th century has been the battleground for the struggle between three ideologies:
democratic capitalism, promoting political, religious and legal rights, with
respect for private property as fundamental; fascism, calling for a strong national
identity under authoritarian rule, also with respect for private property as
fundamental; and communism, abolishing private property to defend the social
and economic rights of each individual and the group.
The last decade has witnessed the victory of democracy. Using global capitalism as a weapon, it has extended its hegemony over the world. With the collapse of the Soviet Empire, and communism totally discredited, forgotten fascist ideologies have re-emerged as the only available alternative. The movement towards the right of the political spectrum is far from complete. Although no one can stop it, let alone reverse it, to slow this movement might prevent us being carried too far off balance.
Throughout the 20th century, kibbutzim have developed an ideological alternative promoting equality as a fundamental principle. This non-doctrinaire movement has clearly established that equalitarian values can be successfully integrated within a democratic environment. As a system of communities, each built on its own ideological configuration, it has created a dynamic society with a pluralistic structure. In addition, it has provided new grounds for the social development of the individual, not only by separating work from salary, but also by turning around the alienating process governing relationships between workers and their work, between citizens and their society.
Such equalitarian values could provide democracy with a much-needed ideological impetus. The growing number of people left behind by the capitalist system, the multiple cracks in the moral fabric of society, and the recent anti-globalisation protests all show how indispensable is a viable alternative. To keep democracy alive, we have to give it the necessary resources so that it can confront the looming challenges and achieve its greater potential.
René Hirsch, French, aged 50, has studied English and music composition, and has worked in various commercial and cummunitarian ventures in Spain and Switzerland. In 1988, a year spent in an Israeli kibbutz brought profound changes to his life. He is currently working on a study of complimentary structures within Kibbutzim and the welfare state. Since 1993 he has lived and worked in the Netherlands.
The Jesus Fellowship is one of the largest intentional communities in Europe.
It consists of 2,500 members, half of whom live in several dozen communities
in the United Kingdom. This Pentecostal style community is, in many respects,
a success story. Although there is a high turnover rate of membership of 12
percent per year, the JF has endured since the late 1960s and continues to steadily
This paper considers the reasons behind the success of the Jesus Fellowship. It is based on both a sociological survey and my experience, as an academic, of spending time in some of their communities.
The reasons for the success of the Jesus Fellowship are as follows:
Firstly, an appealing ideology in the form of a theology that units the membership.
Secondly, in what appears to be a cultist aspect of the movement, there is a strong system of authority and clearly demarcated hierarchy largely based on gender divisions and a middle-class leadership with a lower class rank and file.
Thirdly, an optional style of membership which allows individuals to move in and out of levels of community life.
Fourthly, economic self-sufficiency. This not only includes economic production but several businesses that serve the wider society and have an annual turn over of several millions pounds. In addition, the JF has created an internal division of labour to deal with the needs of the community including health and welfare services.
Fifthly, means of commitment to the community including various forms of covenant and a swearing of oaths.
Finally, on the fringes of communal life are new converts', young, homeless people who make instrumental use of what the JF supplies in terms of practical needs.
This paper concludes by considering the future prospects of the movement.
Dr Stephen Hunt is a lecturer in Sociology at the University of the West of
England. He specialises in Contemporary Christianity and New Religious Movements,
and has published many books and articles in the area.
Jewish holidays were slowly developed through time, and most of them only got
their present character recently. They show strong ideological and religious
aspects which hide behind the curtains of their ancient Israelite roots.
In the 20th century, the Zionist movement appeared as a revolutionary change in Jewish life. Its most important achievements were the revival of the Hebrew language and the creation of a modern cultural tradition which fits modern times.
As usual with revolutions, it began with an extremely destructive impetus, but from the constructive character of this change came the need to build an alternative culture to fill the cultural lacunas which appeared through the process of change. The main and most important laboratory of this process was the kibbutz movement. Throughout 80 years, this movement has tried hard to create a new Jewish, non-religious, modern culture.
In this paper, I shall discuss whether this attempt to create a new culture has been successful.
Dr Baruch Kanari, for fifty years a member of Kibbutz Mahanayim, teaches at
Tel-Hay Academic College, Israel. He has written two books and many scholarly
articles about kibbutz history, and is currently writing the biography of the
socialist, communal theorist, Yad Tabenkin.
Since its dissolution 120 years ago, the Oneida Community (1837-1881) has been
subjected to a variety of interpretations. The controversial nature of Oneida
Community's sexual and social practices, e.g. plural marriage, male continence,
and stirpiculture, has only added to the vagaries of its disputed legacy. Some
of its conflicting interpretations have originated out of national trends, e.g.
the strong anti-Communism of the 1950s, while others have reflected the competing
agendas of various constituencies of the Oneida Community: descendants, scholars,
corporate executives, museum officials, and the general public.
This paper traces the colorful, conflict-ridden legacy of the Oneida Community from the points of view of its various interpreters. It also raises questions for communes, both extant and dead, about interpretation by subsequent generations.
Dr Marlyn McGary Klee is Professor of Political Science at Adelphi University, USA. She has written about the Oneida Community and, with two colleagues, has published a contributed volume, Women in Spiritual and Communitarian Societies in the United States. Dr. Klee serves as Membership Chairperson of the Communal Studies Association.
Tamera is a five year old intentional community, located in Portugal, which is aimed at creating a future worth living. The idea to build up a model for a new culture goes back to the late 70's; so Tamera is the result of about 20 years research. We who live at Tamera see our place as a base for global peace work. We undertake research into new ways of healing both humans and nature. Our overall aim is to develop and then bring into being within our community, a cultural model of a non-violent lifestyle for about 200 people, and the development of what we call a "Healing Biotope". A Healing Biotope is an integrated, living community of people, animals and plants, whose life forces complement each other and are no longer blocked through violence and fear. Life is guided by honesty in relationships, truth in love, transparency in communal dealings and, above all, by each of the participants taking responsibility for him or herself, and thus steering well away from leadership cults.
Currently, 40 members live and work at Tamera but, during each summer, Tamera has many guests who share our dreams and who come to work with us and help build up this project. We are just starting a youth project and the youth school "Global Learning". New ideas for professions, and new commitments in political and humanitarian fields can all be found here at Tamera, as we seek to integrate the best of what we learn during our travels to other continents and cultures. Tamera is looking for support and cooperation with other committed peace workers and future-orientated communities.
Our next international meeting point will be the Summer University from August 6th to August 17th, 2001 "The Female Voice for Peace". Welcome!
Barbara Kovats studied prehistory with the questions: Have there been civilisations
that were not violent and had better contact with nature? She now dedicates
her life to building models for a culture worth living. For 15 years she has
been in the network that is now working in Tamera community where she builds
community and networks for a new peace force.
The intentional communities movement in North America is alive, well and thriving - as documented in my recently released video with the title Visions of Utopia: Experiments in Sustainable Culture.
What are the contemporary trends: cooperatives, collectives, communes,
cohousing, ecovillages - and what else?
How are they different from or similar to other communal experiments that have existed over the centuries?
Are there any consistent threads that run throughout the movement?
How do these visionary experiments serve as testing grounds for the evolution of the surrounding culture, and how are they received by their neighbors?
How are they received and portrayed by the media?
What is the glue' that is holding these communities together?
What is the range of economic, educational, environmental, organizational, and social exploration that is under way?
How long do they last?
What's working, and what are the modern pitfalls?
How have their goals and priorities evolved over time?
What lessons have the participants learned, and what would they do differently if they had it all to do over again?
All these questions will be answered in this presentation!
Geoph Kozeny has lived in various kinds of communities for 28 years, and has
been on the road for 13 years visiting over 350 intentional communities - asking
about their visions and realities. He is a board member of the Fellowship for
Intentional Community, helped create the first two editions of Communities Directory,
and is a regular columnist for Communities magazine. His Visions of Utopia'
video documentary has been accumulating rave reviews.
Twin Oaks, now almost 34 years old, has played a large part in starting several
new communities. The newest, Acorn Community, is only seven miles away from
This presentation will examine the development of a new community located so close to its parent, and compare the culture and practices of the two communities. We will look at how Twin Oaks' basic systems (such as child-rearing, decision making, labor, etc) have developed over time. We will also explore where Acorn has diverged from the systems inherited from Twin Oaks, as well as how integral Twin Oaks is to Acorn's culture, and indeed to its ongoing existence.
Raven Long has been a member of Acorn Community for four and a half years. He manages Acorn's visitor program, and has deep commitment to the vigor and growth of the Communities Movement. Drawn to community by the works of BF Skinner, Ursula LeGuin, and other (relatively) contemporary writers, he strives, through spiritual and personal growth, to bring connection and healing to his community, and through that to the world. He and his several partners are raising two children, and are guardians for a third.
Government-instigated cooperative farms were the agrarian land-use pattern in the GDR. In the beginning, the farmers did not like, and some even hated, this forced collectivisation. Later, the farmers not only accepted but also encouraged their cooperatives because they saw a possibility for advancing themselves through independent decision-making. After German reunification in 1990, most farmers in eastern Germany retained their rural cooperatives, but in new legal forms, with 80% of all arable land remaining in cooperatives. They are large, middle class rural enterprises, with most of their members being workers and business-people.
The right to vote in cooperatives follows the rule "one man/woman - one vote" (different from joint-stock companies!). This promotes an egalitarian, democratic procedure within cooperatives.
According to German law, cooperative farms are "production cooperatives". Their purpose is the promotion of the welfare of their members who have equal rights, equal decision-making power, and who work together in their own business. As with communes, these cooperatives also help in social affairs such as caring for children, holidays, and recreational activities.
These agricultural, cooperative farms are economically successful, although they are more often discriminated against than privileged in modern Germany. In the last ten years, many members have subordinated their personal claims and expatiations to the development of their enterprise - and they now expect higher income per person.
Professor Hans Luft has a PhD in Economics from University of Leipzig, and
taught Political Economy at the University of Leipzig and at the Academy for
Social Sciences in Berlin (East). Since 1990, he served as Scientific Collaborator
and Project Manager in private organizations, until his retirement in 1999.
His research includes property rights and ground-rent in agriculture, as well
as the transformation of agriculture in eastern Germany. His latest book is
Blickpunkt Landwirtschaft: Zum Transformationsprozeß ostdeutscher Agrarstrukturen.
Peter Lang GmbH, Europäischer Verlag der Wissenschaften, Frankfurt/ Main,
Benjamin von Mendelssohn
The Institute for Global Peace Work (IGF) seeks to create Healing Biotopes within
intentional communities on all continents.
A Healing Biotope is a community of people, animals and plants whose life forces complement rather than block each other through violence or fear. Healing Biotopes are power points and living seeds of future peace. According to the theory of morphogenetic creation of fields', the existence of Healing Biotopes around the globe can create a global field effect for peace because of two ideas: all is one being', and all life reacts to information'. Because the world is a unity, and because it reacts to information, it can also be changed through information. Information which is being created in a few places enters the earth's information system, and can then be picked up at other places. This is the logic of an holistic organism, our planet earth.
Healing Biotopes are most likely to develop within intentional communities who's members interact with trust and openness. Healing is not an isolated process, but a process that occurs in relationship to other beings. Personal healing occurs in relationship with fellow humans, but also in our relationship with animals, plants, nature and Creation. The deepest biological and mental-spiritual healing power is trust. When we achieve complete trust, a new force field emerges in all our relationships.
Part of IGF's development of Healing Biotopes is our School Mirja' and our youth school Global Learning'. Both educate future peace workers who want to take on responsibility in Tamera community, in other communities and in areas of political crisis.
We will discuss possible common aims, strategies and networking co-operation between intentional communities, communes and developing Healing Biotopes. We will also show how an intentional community can develop into a Healing Biotope. The IGF is looking for co-operation with individuals, peace workers, communities and institutions who are interested in global peace.
Benjamin von Mendelssohn was born in Berlin in 1973. He is a dancer and body-worker, and for the past ten years has been actively searching for an alternative model for life and peace. He is a founding member of the Association for the Founding of a Peace University, in Berlin. He now lives at Tamera community, Portugal, and works at the Institute for Global Peace Work (IGF) in Tamera, and in their youth school, Global Learning.
Cohousing is a new type of intentional community that has developed in response
to perceived social problems of the late twentieth century personal and
household isolation and the breakdown of community, in particular.
Cohousing communities integrate autonomous private dwellings with shared utilities and recreational facilities such as kitchens, dining halls, workshops and children's play facilities. Residents utilise their shared facilities to establish a rich community life of social, recreational, cultural and work activities. They act collaboratively to address the practical and social needs of individuals and families, recognising the importance of social relationships and shared ties as antidotes to alienation, disempowerment and stress.
Although many of its underlying principles are derived from social experimentation of the 1970s, cohousing is not a marginal or fringe phenomenon. In Denmark, there are several hundred cohousing projects, bofælleskaber as they are known, which offer a genuine housing option. Furthermore, cohousing principals and strategies are being integrated into many other social housing projects. In North America, about fifty cohousing communities have been established in the last decade. Although this comprises a minuscule proportion of the population, cohousing has recently attracted wide-spread public interest. Because it is a mainstream housing type, cohousing has the potential to attract or influence a critical mass of people, and so make a quantum difference to long-term social and environmental sustainability.
This paper will suggest that communal practices and sensibilities will become increasingly important in a future society marked, globally, by individualism and consumerism. It will discuss the spread and potential positive influence of cohousing, not just in the West, but in the developing world, as well.
Dr Graham Meltzer is a lecturer in architecture at the Queensland University
of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. His teaching and research focus upon social
and environmental aspects of architecture. He has published papers about cohousing
in architectural journals and in Communal Societies. Graham has spent many years
in intentional communities including 2 years on a kibbutz and 8 years on Australia's
largest commune, Tuntable Falls. He has, more recently, lived in Danish and
The kibbutz was founded on distinct principles and ideals. Despite an extremely
tough and often hostile environment, during the first fifty or so years the
kibbutzim flourished by preserving these ideals through a core majority of committed
members who were the result of a severe self-selection process in pre-war Europe.
After the holocaust and the creation of the Israeli State, through unselective absorption of new groups and individuals, a large non-committed periphery was created. These newcomers were more interested in economic success and in raising living standards than in maintaining kibbutz principles, and eventually overwhelmed the principled core. This process was exacerbated by the dispersal of much of the new kibbutz population in under-manned settlements along the borders to fulfil national objectives, which in turn distracted from the essential ideals of communal living.
With the resultant weakening and even abandoning of those principles, and the failure of most of the younger generation to follow on, the very existence of the kibbutz as a communal society is now in question.
In discussing the causes and mechanism of this process, the suggested conclusion is that for an alternative communal society to survive and flourish, it is essential to maintain a strong majority core of ideologically committed members through a firm selection process.
David Merron was a leading member of kibbutz Zikim on the Gaza border for nearly
twenty years. He now lives in London where he is a writer. His latest book,
Collectively Yours, is an anecdotal account of kibbutz life during a traumatic
period. Having maintained an active interest in communal societies, he is particularly
concerned with the decline of idealism in kibbutzim, and the relevance of this
for all communal societies.
Herrnhut commune was founded in 1852 by Johann Friedrich Krumnow, a charismatic
German Christian Socialist. Herrnhut was Australia's first utopian commune and,
having lasted 37 years, it still holds the Australian record for longevity.
Herrnhut communards (a maximum of 60) were almost all from what is now eastern Germany and south-western Poland. They had no private assets, lived, prayed, worked and ate together, and saw themselves as a utopian model for humanity. They supported themselves through raising small crops, dairy produce and wool. They built lovely stone houses, some of which survive, and a large stone church. They were strict pacifists, and believed that only God, not medical doctors, could heal them of sickness.
Their many critics accused them of free-love sexuality, and attacked their communist beliefs, their fair treatment of Aborigines, their support of homeless people, and speaking German within the conservative Australian countryside.
Johann Krumnow, their charismatic leader, died in 1880, and Herrnhut's leadership was then taken up by Louisa Elmore, a woman who had grown up on the commune. Herrnhut's membership was ageing, and she was unable to attract new, younger members, nor repay the debts which had accrued, so Herrnhut commune was dissolved in 1889.
Dr Bill Metcalf, of Griffith University, Australia, is the author of five books
about historical and contemporary communal groups, his best known being Shared
Visions, Shared Lives: Communal Living around the Globe. His latest book is
Saints, Sinners or Silly Sods: Herrnhut, Australia's First Utopian Commune.
The study of intentional communities is more than a fascinating pursuit of
the human quest for the implementation of high idealism. At its best it has
the potential for nothing less than helping save the human race, which is drowning
in its own material and cultural excesses.
Communities, in their seeking to overcome our fundamental disconnectedness from each other and from nature, have an enormous message for an alienated world. Communal studies, in its communication of that message to the world and in its provision of critical insights that help strengthen communities, makes a great contribution not only to scholarship but to human progress itself.
At the same time, scholars who study intentional communities are few and far between. Conveying our important work to a needy world is a daunting task, and that is the reason why if the ICSA did not exist, we would have to invent it.
A challenge stands before us: how can we make this small but vital group survive and prosper? The ICSA needs to redefine, even reinvent, itself as it enters a new century ready to make its contribution to humanity, declaring its mission clearly and developing programs that will propagate that mission.
By the time of this conference, ICSA's board of directors will have discussed many options for our organizational future. The panelists who will join me in this discussion will help us examine some of those options and will invite our membership to help craft a renewed ICSA with a structure that will help us all fulfil the high mission we are collectively undertaking.
Timothy Miller is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, USA. His research focuses on the history of American communes in the twentieth century. His most recent book is The 60s Communes, (Syracuse University Press).
One of the main goals of the founding generation of the kibbutz movement was
the building of a new society with close human relationships among its members.
Despite this intention, observers of kibbutz child-rearing such as Spiro, Bettelheim
and Sharabany, reported less expression of intimacy among kibbutz raised children
and adolescents than found in the general population.
There are two different interpretations of this phenomenon:
A psychoanalytic view which explains this as a personality trait which is a consequence of kibbutz upbringing, and which has a lasting, detrimental effect on person's capacity to be intimate.
An ecological explanation, which links the reduced expression of intimacy to the social and cultural circumstances in the kibbutz, and assumes that once some of these conditions are changed this effect may disappear.
Relevant research results, which challenge the psychoanalytic interpretation, will be reported and the implications of these findings for human relations in the kibbutz as well as in other communes will be discussed.
Dr Michael Nathan was born 1925 in Berlin, Germany, and emigrated to (then) Palestine in 1934. He is a founding, long-term member of Kibbutz Beit-Qeshet, Israel. He is a psychotherapist and the former Director of the Institute of Research on Kibbutz Education at Oranim. His research Interests include the family in the kibbutz, socialization and psychopathology in the kibbutz, and drug abuse in the kibbutz.
Although kibbutzim are often referred to by communal scholars, and communes
by scholars of the kibbutz, there have been few comparative studies. Nobody
has attempted to ask, in any depth, in what respects the kibbutz is similar
to other communal societies, and in what respects it is unique. This is a tentative
attempt to answer these questions, and to ask whether the reply casts any light
on the question which many scholars, ideologists, and simple kibbutzniks are
asking today: what is the future of the kibbutz?
Rejecting the "developmental" approach, I take the question of survival to be a major characteristic of a successful community. In terms of longevity, only six groups of communes have survived for a generation or more ( roughly forty years): the Hutterites, the Bruderhof, the Shakers, Amana, Oneida, and, among contemporary communes, Twin Oaks. Others, of course, have survived, but abandoned all or most of their communal characteristics.
The six "survivors" will be compared in terms of a number of characteristics: size; longevity; religious beliefs and practices; their attitudes to the nuclear family, and to gender relationships; education; modes of self-government; and their relationship with the outside world. In the light of this comparison, I shall ask whether there is a formula for the success and survival of communal movements including the kibbutz; and which of the currently surviving groups seems likeliest to survive.
Professor Henry Near, a member of Kibbutz Beit Ha'emek since 1955, teaches
the history of modern Israel at Oranim College, University of Haifa, Israel.
He is the author of a number of books in Hebrew and in English, his best-known
being The Kibbutz Movement: A History, 2 vols.,OUP 1992 and 1997, an updated
Hebrew version of which is now in press.
Doctress Neutopia, aka Libby Hubbard
During this talk, I will explore the role eros plays in creating evolutionary architect, Paolo Soleri's vision of the Hyperbuilding. Soleri, an Italian architect who is creating a prototype arcology (architecture and ecology) in central Arizona at Arcosanti, describes the Hyperbolising, "The form of the Hyperbuilding is an analogy. It explores the difference between male and female and the possibilities inherent in Eros. The Tower is the lingam, the male. Two concentric Exedrae, semicircular edifices, are the female, the womb. The fecundity of the city, the richness of invention and complexity it germinates, is produced by the interpenetration of the two forms. Tower and the exedrae are inseparable." The core symbolism of the design plan is the union of the lingam and the yoni, male and female.
Is it enough to only build the physical structures of a Civitate Dei or must people actually experience love in the flesh for the arcology to become a social reality? Is building community and built structures a simultaneous activity or can Soleri only build the container while ignoring workers' equity issues, the need for early childhood education and community development at Arcosanti? Are work and love an inseparable combination needed to create Soleri's vision of the "Lean Society" which he says is an essential element in arcological design?
Even though Soleri is vague in his definition of a "Lean Society", one can think of it in terms of creating an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable ecocity based on pollution free, renewable energy technologies. In such an ecocity, an accounting and tax system must be created with the ethics of social equity in mind so that class divisions between the rich and the poor can be eliminated. Soleri states that what he is doing is creating a physical structure, not an intentional community. Arcosanti is a construction site, not a place where long-term committed relationships can mature.
I will reveal how his philosophy does not allow for healthy growth and could be one of the major factors why Arcosanti has not been able to reach a "critical mass" of 1,000 people in its thirty year existence. I will look at the way love is expressed at Arcosanti, and discuss the difficulty of finding the Civitate Dei at Arcosanti since buildings and virtual reality seems to be more important to the founder than people's long-term well-being.
In conclusion, I want to talk about my efforts in helping develop community at Arcosanti, what I feel are the blocks to that development, and finally to give ways Arcosanti can change to become more of an arcology of love.
Doctress Neutopia's, aka Libby Hubbard, Ed.D, interest in arcology led her
to become a resident at Arcosanti for a year and a half. During this time, she
has observed the Arcosanti Foundation and has a few insights into why the project
has failed to become a prototype arcology for 7,000 people.
Skywoods Cosynegal was founded 25 years ago as a new form of expanded family.
Our collective ideology has Marxist-anarchist roots, and emphasizes our social
being and collective consciousness. We have been radically egalitarian in our
work, money and sexual behavior, expecting from each of us service above and
beyond the call of duty. We have pooled all of our money in a common, selfless
purse, and this raises many economic issues of equity, stability and security.
As a polyfidelitous family, our goal was to have open, non-possessive, balanced relationships in which no one was left out emotionally or physically. This has presented us with many opportunities to deal with jealousy, rage, denial and illusion.
Today, Skywoods Cosynegal is a community in transition. Some of our long time members have left and others have recently died. We are a shadow of our former selves in a different cultural climate--yet the fire of our dreams still burns.
Our circumstances have caused us to reflect on and review our founding principles and group experiences in the light of a new dawn--trying to reform as a viable, growing, new form of expanded family in the 21st century.
We have learned much about size and sustainability, maintaining intimate connections, mutual support, balanced relationships, and the meaning of commitment within a new form of expanded family. The legacy of relationships at Skywoods Cosynegal extends far beyond our group and has important lessons for other communal groups.
Stephen Niezgoda, a founding member of Skywoods Cosynegal, is a designer, woodworker,
permaculture teacher and writer. Art, ideas and creativity are his passions.
At the start of the 20th century, numerous cooperative communities emerged in
rural areas of Europe and the United States with the goal of incorporating nature
into everyday life and thereby re-instilling a long shunned connection between
the civilized' human being and her/his natural surroundings. Monte Verita
and Hellerau were two such alternative communities that played a significant
role in the development of several artistic movements of the 20th century.
Hellerau was a cooperative institution established in 1910 by Jacques Dalcroze, a Viennese born musician and harmony teacher. Inspired by a pre-Hellenic notion of educating people by acknowledging the body, mind, and spirit as equal and interconnected parts of a unified whole, Dalcroze introduced methods of movement which laid a groundwork for a generation of innovative choreographers. Located outside of Dresden, Hellerau served as a center of inspiration for influential painters, innovators of the theater, and the pioneers of the modern dance movement. Proponents of the Hellerau way of life included Expressionist painter Emil Nolde, set designer Adolphe Appia, playwright Frank Wedekind, modern dancer Mary Wigman, ballet dancer Vaslav Nijinsky, and theater director Max Reinhardt.
In 1920, the life reformists Ida Hofman and Henri Oedenkoven established Monte Verita, an independent rural community in Ascona, Switzerland, where artists and writers could hone their skills in a creative environment, away from the destructive influences of capitalism and the demands of urban life. The inhabitants took pride in the colony's independent economy based on communal farming and collective labor. A daily regiment included art classes, vegetarianism, homeopathic cures, farming, communion with nature, and dance. Here too, a core of experimental dancers developed theories of movement that would shape the theoretical precepts of avant-garde dance of the 1920s.
Both Hellerau and Monte Verita served as communal centers of creativity out of which new aesthetic priorities emerged. This presentation focuses on the aesthetic configurations that thrived in the world of painting, dance, and literature long after the colonies themselves ceased to exist.
Dr Sydney Norton, Assistant Professor of German at the University of Southern Indiana, has studied at the Free University Berlin, and Berlin's Academy of the Arts. The first chapter of her doctoral dissertation, Modernity in Motion: The Performance Art of Mary Wigman and Valeska Gert in the Weimar Republic' discusses the intentional communities of Hellerau and Monte Verita, and their lasting influences on German artistic movements in the 1920s. This work is currently being revised for publication.
The large wave of communalism in the 1960s has overshadowed the appearance of
communes in the 1950s. In the first decade after the Second World War, a search
for ways of communalism began in various corners of the world. In post-war Europe,
cooperative groups of various kinds were formed: communes appeared in France,
Holland, Great Britain, Germany and the Scandinavian countries. The 1950s also
saw a communal awakening in Asia, Australia and New Zealand.
In the summer of 1958, thousands of communes appeared in China. Their scope was large and their characteristics were different from anything that had taken place in the West, as they were initiated by government policy. The decision to establish these communes was taken by the Chinese Communist Party, at Mao Tse-tung's initiative. In that same year, the Yamagishi Kai commune movement was founded in Japan.
The largest presence of communes during this period was, however, in the United States where there were the established Hutterite and Bruderhof colonies, and also a number of communes that had been founded in the 1930s.
New communes appeared in the United States after the Second World War, the majority of which were pacifist in nature. They decided in 1952 to become The Fellowship of Intentional Communities (FIC). By 1954, this Fellowship numbered nine communitarian groups whose members pooled their property and work. Among the Fellowship communities, Macedonia and Koinonia, in Georgia, have had the most significant history.
This lecture will focus on these communities, analysing their rise and decline, and comparing them to other pacifist communities.
Professor Yaacov Oved is a founding member of Kibbutz Palmachim, Israel. He
is Emeritus Professor of History at Tel Aviv University, Head of the Department
of Communal Studies at Yad Tabenkin, and Executive Director of ICSA since 1985.
He is the author of Two Hundred Years of American Communes, 1988, and The Witness
of the Brothers: A History of the Bruderhof, 1996, both by Transaction Books.
The kibbutz has achieved much in promoting women's equality, but it still has a long way to go. The experiment of the kibbutz brings up questions and solutions that are a fertile ground for the development of feminist theories and practice. Some of the issues it has addressed are the feminization of poverty; economic independence of women, collective child rearing, and the role of community in family life.
Since the 1950s, three processes that might affect equality between the sexes
have become apparent. First, as a result of a growing division of labor, almost
all workers in childcare, laundry and kitchen are women, while most of the agricultural
and industrial workers are men. Second, the family has become increasingly important
in kibbutz communities, as manifested in a higher rate of childbirth and a high
rate of marriage. Institutional changes have also occurred. Children sleep in
their parents' houses in all the kibbutzim, although formerly they slept in
children's houses, where they received care and schooling. A third dramatic
process started in the mid 1980s. The kibbutz communities have suffered from
the economic crisis in Israel and processes of economic decline started. Measures
taken to overcome these processes have affected gender equality by denying entry
of new people into managerial positions but also by encouraging career development.
The failure of the kibbutz social structure to abolish gender inequalities raise questions which relate to universal communal-feminist agendas:
1. Does sex-role division necessarily lead to inequality between the sexes?
2. How does economic crisis and changes that follow affect gender equality?
Michal Palgi is the chair of Women's Studies at the Emek Yezreel College in Israel, a senior researcher and former director of the Institute for Research of the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea at the University of Haifa. She has researched the Kibbutz extensively and has published on topics related to gender, work organization and change in the Kibbutz. She is a member of kibbutz Nir-David.
This session will elaborate upon up-to-date information that came forward from
speakers at a recent international symposium on "New Communities for the
New Century: Answers for Retirement and Ecology" at the Center for Communal
Studies of the University of Southern Indiana in Evansville, Indiana, USA. As
the retirement-age population grows dramatically in modern societies, individuals,
families and governments are searching for ways of providing healthy, safe,
creative, and enjoyable living environments for the retired. One answer proving
to offer near-utopian dimensions for the elder years is retirement communities.
Although organized and financed in various ways, these communities draw heavily upon traditional communal, even utopian, ideas and ideals. In many ways retirement communities represent a major segment of the latest wave of the communal phenomenon, the urge to solve societal issues by communal methods.
Retirement communities also evidence the perpetual utopian yearning to provide safety, well-being, happiness, personal fulfilment, camaraderie, and the daily needs for oneself and others. The presentation (with slides and overhead projections) in this session will show how the desire to solve the problem of providing proper care for retired persons in the United States is being met, in part, by using communal and utopian means and dreams as we enter the 21st century.
Dr Donald E. Pitzer is Professor of History and Director of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, Indiana, USA. A former president of both the ICSA and the Communal Studies Association, his research focuses on the Harmonists and Owenites of New Harmony, Indiana, and on the theory of communal development. He edited the 1997 book, America's Communal Utopia's.
In the first part of my paper, I will place postmodernism in a historical context. I want to show that postmodernism has a long history, a history which one can describe as the struggle against certainty. One can clearly recognize this struggle during the utopian periods of 1825-1850, around 1900, and the 1960s. I will show some similarities and differences between the 1960s and the 1990s.
In the second part, I will divide contemporary Dutch intentional communities
into three types:
a) the more institutionalized communities (Central Living, living groups for elderly people), mostly subsidized by the Dutch government the famous Poldermodel;
b) the religiously inspired communities with the aim of helping others;
c) the counter-cultural, often short-lived, Do-it-Yourself communities.
In the next part, I will show how all kinds of communities are influenced by and cope with our neo-liberal times.
In my conclusion, I shall connect these communities with what I have learnt from the ICSA-1998 Conference and with theories of social movements. We can consider all these more or less alternative communities as being of one movement, expressing their aims differently.
Dr Saskia Poldervaart is Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Political
Science at the University of Amsterdam. During the 1960s she was active in all
kinds of alternative social movements, and from 1995 she has become once again
involved in the Dutch alternative movement. She has published on utopian socialism
and utopian movements in general. She now focuses on the utopian and postmodernist
aspects of contemporary alternative social movements.
Sonia Bloomfield Ramagem
Recently, the Brazilian Universal Church of God's Kingdom - IURD - has started
to build what it calls a kibbutz'. It is based on the Canaan Farm, in
the drought stricken interior of the north eastern State of Bahia. The project
is called Northeast Project, and it has been receiving technical assistance
from Israelis. Its propaganda, as aired on TV, radio, newspapers, and the web,
is all based on the use of Biblical and modern Israeli metaphors.
From this many questions arise:
Should we see it as manipulation?
Should we see it as cultural diffusion?
Should we see it as a reaction against globalization?
On the threshold of the third Christian millennium, when the kibbutz institution is 90 years old, what are the positive lessons and perspectives learned from it which the IURD intends to apply? What about the lessons and perspectives from the kibbutz' crisis the IURD intends to avoid, and how? Will the IURD ever be a kibbutz' in the Israeli sense? What sort of digestion' will be made to transform the focal idea into a palatable one to Brazilian cultural tastes?
These questions will be answered from my extensive field research with the Universal Church of God's Kingdom. This field research will be complemented by content analysis of the Project's propaganda. The results and analysis of this research into a Brazilian Kibbutz will help to show whether the Kibbutz model of communal living can be applied in other cultures or is specific to Israel.
Professor Sonia Bloomfield Ramagem, of University of Brasilia, Brazil, is a Geographer and Socio-Cultural Anthropologist. She is currently teaching at Montgomery College, Maryland, USA. Her main research interests are the kibbutzim's crisis and questions of identity, as well as Jewish communities in Brazil. She is Vice-President of ICSA.
This presentation will discuss recent research into three organic farms, each
run as a workers collective, in Germany. Each collective's goals are different
from the others, yet all face similar issues in their communal organisation.
Why do these social activists opt for a rural life? Do they see themselves as being isolated from the mainstream of political and social action, or as being an integral part of social change?
This research also raises the fundamental question of the overall meaning and contribution of organic gardening, and the philosophy thereof, to the wider alternative' or counter-cultural movement in our modern, post-industrial world.
Dr Elisabeth Meyer-Renschhausen works at the Institut für Soziologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. Her main fields of research are the history of social movements (especially women's movement), changing eating habits, ecological problems, workers' collectives and gender questions.
All communes need to recruit new, younger members if they are to survive across
more than one generation. With a few notable exceptions, most communal founders
have been unable to imbue their children, or others of their children's generation,
with communal zeal, so communes die out. The Israeli kibbutzim, having endured
for almost a century, are a notable exception.
Over the years, the Kibbutz movement has used various ways both to socialise their own children into communal ways and, as importantly, to attract and prepare non-communal young people for the communal lifestyle of the kibbutz. During the interwar period, when the number of kibbutz-born children was very small, the main source of manpower, both for new settlements and for reinforcing existing ones, came from zionist youth movements. An important part of this set-up was the Hechalutz Organization which undertook to recruit young people, train them for agricultural work and communal life, and facilitate their immigration to Palestine and their absorption in the kibbutzim.
In the USA and Canada, the Hechalutz Organization operated between 1930 and 1973. At its peak, in the forties and fifties, Hechalutz operated eight training farms, and from them several thousand trainees went to Israel to become kibbutzniks.
What are the lessons from this Hechalutz training in communal living? Why is this organization no longer active? What can contemporary communal groups from around the world learn from this scheme, in terms of solving problems of intergenerational change.
Dr Yehuda Riemer, of Yad Tabenkin, and the Ben-Gurion Research Center, was
born 1926 in Germany, and has lived in kibbutzim since 1949. HesStudied Social
Science at City College of New York, and history at University of Tel Aviv.
He founded and directed the Department for Youth Movement Research at Yad Tabenkin.
His book, The Labor Zionist Youth Movement Habonim in North America, will soon
be published. The Hechalutz Organization of America is his current research
For over 30 years the Aquarian Research Foundation has been researching the future of our planet, from both a spiritual and scientific approach, to find out how this planet can have a positive future. We've looked into politics, spirituality, health, agriculture, safe energy, love, sex, lifestyles, and whatever else can bring us a really positive future.
We have found some fine answers:
Nuclear families represent not normality, but result from the intentional dismemberment of natural lifestyles to isolate humans to produce soldiers and slaves.
New Energy will totally replace fossil fuels in this decade.
Advanced organic agriculture can feed the planet.
Humans can return to tribal living, our lifestyle for 99% of our time on earth. After a million years, it's in our genes.
Competition may be only an anomaly, inimical to our tribal past and only marginally useful to a positive future.
Polyamory, though slow to emerge from centuries of forced monogamy, may soon be more powerful than such movements as gay liberation.
ZEGG style communities will become much better known as a result of this conference.
ZEGG's form of dorm style living, with love rooms for privacy, permits many people to share housing, a necessity in hard economic times.
A positive future, joyful despite poverty, seems likely to emerge, along with amazing breakthroughs that can provide food, energy and education for a world at peace.
Art Rosenblum learned the purpose of life when, aged 20, he found 600 people living communally in Paraguay. Their answer was building a world based entirely on love. Finding that to be intuitively correct, he quit working for money to apply himself full time to that purpose. After 20 years of communal living, from religious to group marriage, and 30 years of future research, he believes he has some answers and foresees a very positive future following difficult times.
Following institutional and structural changes in many kibbutzim, the question
of whether they will remain intentional communities becomes relevant. A central
feature of the collective identity of intentional communities is that they have
been created, and continue, in order to realize the values shared by their members.
A high degree of value-consensus among members is therefore a necessary condition
for the existence of an intentional community.
This paper will present results from recent research studying the value-orientations of kibbutz members, and comparing them with data from past research. The main value areas studied were collectivism versus individualism, equality versus equity, materialism versus postmaterialism, and overall ideological orientations. In comparison with past data, less consensus was found, as well as the development of different value patterns.
The differentiation of value patterns helps explain the process of differentiation among three types of communities:
communities introducing farreaching changes, e.g. unequal salaries and privatization of ownership.
communities preserving traditional structures and institutions.
communities that changed the institutional structure but preserve the egalitarian principles.
Menachem Rosner is Professor Emeritus of Sociology, and founder of the Institute for Research on the Kibbutz and the Cooperative Idea, at Haifa University, Israel. He has been a member of Kibbutz Reshafim since its establishment in 1944, and is past president of the Israeli Sociological Association. His best known publications are The Second Generation (English) and The Kibbutz in Times of Change (Hebrew).
One of the main features of the kibbutz was its social totality, i.e. being
a holistic collective which lives a totally communal way of life, with complete
equality. In the course of time, a process of change could be noted: a shift
from this totality, which Talmon Garber defined as a bund, to a more individualistic
way of life which she named as a commune. Cohen added a more extreme pole in
the continuum of change which he defined as association. Talmon Garber added
two opposing patterns to these poles: pioneer pattern of living which was linked
to the total commune, and consumer ethos which was linked to the association
in Cohen's definition.
I studied the kinds of social contracts which bind the kibbutz members into a community with different patterns of communal life. I suggest that the changes can be demonstrated through the shifts in the source of authority in the community. I argue that in a total commune, authority resides in the hand of the community as a whole, expressed through the general assembly of the members who have total authority over the individual in the entire scope of his/her life. In an association, authority is in the hands of individual members. The authority of the community, through the assembly or other forms of governance is only in the range of formulated, agreed issues. These two different types of agreements, total commune vs. association, represent a change in ideology, discourse and mission of the kibbutz within the wider society. This analysis can be used also in understanding processes in other communes and the commune movement around the globe.
* Contract-social has the meaning with which Rousseau defined it.
Dr. Daniel Rosolio, Vice Provost, Western Galilee Academic College and research
fellow at the Kibbutz Research Institute at Haifa University is a former Knesset
(the Israeli parliament) member and former Secretary General of the Labor Economy
holding company, Hevrat Ovdim. Dr. Rosolio recently published a book, "System
and Crisis", on the economic and general crises which have beset the kibbutz,
and on the resultant changes in the kibbut
This presentation examines the rise and fall of the present incarnation of
Sojourners Sydney, an urban experiment in Community. It offers both an examination
of the process since the inception of a vision, as well as the personal insights
and analyses of the founder.
Expect to consider the questions of ethnicity, race, class, gender, age, etc., and how they still divide in sophisticated, 21st century, multicultural Sydney. Hear some funny, sad, inspiring, surprising stories . . . . . and share your thoughts!
Léa Rothberg is an Australian-born Jew, with a love of European languages. She has interests in issues of racism, antisemitism, and internalised oppression, garnered during years of living in, and completing academic studies in, the U.S., Mexico, Israel and Australia. Her interest in Community spans more than 25 years. In Sydney she has been trying to establish a community-led experiment in a guest/apartment/meeting-house environment, seeking to draw women from non-dominant-culture heritages.
Intentional communities come in many shapes and sizes, but there are stark contrasts between the more traditional, utopian models and the new forms of fortress' or gateway' communities. This paper will explore some of the core social issues arising between the ecologically-friendly communes and the new fortress intentional communities emerging in Australia. This paper will argue that the new trend of elitist community establishment has a powerfully threatening influence over citizens which cannot be ignored by communards.
Australia has a rich tradition of communal experimentation during most of its post-white-settlement history. In particular, since the counter-culture reflections of the late 1960s, many of these communes have striven for collective self-sufficiency, often with a deep sense of ecological responsibility. On the other hand, the new fortress intentional communities, copied from those in USA (often featuring designer' 18-link golf courses) are suited to nuclear families aspiring for opulent lifestyles in exclusive suburban security-conscious real estate developments.
Social change motives which are sensitive to ecological issues, and a more discerning approach to consumerism are likely to take a back seat by governments which accept elite, gated intentional community developments. Recent political history in Australia demonstrates that governments are less concerned with such issues, while economic elitism with environmental disregard appears to be acceptable. This paper calls for even greater political resolve than in the past by the commune network to counter these trends.
David Sprigg spent some time in the early 70s living a hippy' lifestyle
in a London urban commune - and survived reasonably intact'. On his return
to Australia he became involved in community development and social action at
a rural level, including some 20 years working in community-managed labour market
programs. He is now a part-time teacher, and PhD student, at Royal Melbourne
Institute of Technology, Melbourne, Australia. His PhD research is entitled
Citizenship and Marginal/Alternative Social Networks'.
Until recently, the educational practices of the three traditional groups (Leut)
of Hutterian Brethren (Schmiedeleut, Dariusleut and Lehrerleut) have been quite
uniform with more variation in local practice and colony preference than between
the three groups. However, within the past decade, there have been changes in
the direction and orientation of the philosophical underpinnings of the educational
programs of each group. These changes have been so significant that it is no
longer accurate or appropriate to speak of "Hutterite" education as
if there exists a basic over-all unity among the three groups.
The Lehrerleut have retained a very conservative, traditional approach to education. They do not allow their young people to continue in school past the basic legal minimum age (in most states and provinces, this means their sixteenth birthday). They have removed all electronic media from the classroom
The Dariusleut allow electronic media in the classroom (including computers) but discontinue formal schooling after the sixteenth birthday. They do permit their young people to continue on and finish high school in special home study courses with the help of the non-Hutterian public school teachers who are employed to teach in the colony.
The Schmiedeleut encourage their students to finish high school and have even built their own high schools (complete with gymnasiums and TV studios) for this purpose. They support a special program at Brandon University in Manitoba (the Brandon University Hutterite Educational Program) which trains their own young adults to serve as colony teachers with a fully accredited college degree. They have also begun their own inter-colony broadcasts of low frequency television classes in areas where there is a high enough density of Hutterite settlements to justify the practice.
This paper will discuss the current educational procedures and philosophies of each group, and the over-all impact these changes are making within each Leut. The significance of the impact of these changes on the relationships between the three respective groups of Hutterian Brethren will also be discussed.
Dr Max E. Stanton, of Brigham Young University, Hawaii, has been involved in a wide range of Hutterite research since 1984. He has presented papers on Hutterites at various communal studies conferences, and has published widely on Hutterites and the LDS (Mormon) United Order.
Demian zur Strassen
Intimacy is what really forms community on a deeper, energetic level - the feeling
of closeness, of authentic togetherness and flowing love. Living together on
this level of intimacy, however, will also stir up difficult feelings like competition
and jealousy, but repressing such feelings works against the deeper levels of
This can destroy the life of a community in two ways:
a) People will leave the community, so it dissolves.
b) People abandon their deeper level of feelings, and settle on a more superficial way of relating within community life.
As a result of b), the energetic level of togetherness dries up and the community starts to break-down. To avoid a), members may try to hold the community together by relying on a group identity which is built on ideology and hierarchy. In order to adhere to that group ideology they give up their authentic, individual truth. As a result, the structure of the community may persist but its living heart will die.
In contrast, communities with good emotional integration skills integrate these deeper feelings so that the energetic basis of the community - flowing love - becomes deeper and stronger, and authentic individuals grow in authentic, communal togetherness.
This presentation will discuss a natural and beneficial way of looking at emotions, and show that a more adequate name for negative emotions is feelings of challenge'. It will also introduce the five skills which comprise our natural emotional competence. Vivation' is a self-help method of teaching these skills. Vivation is applicable as a basic tool for all intentional communities.
Demian zur Strassen is a Vivation-Trainer and member of the world board of
Associated Vivation Professional. He has published two books, one on relationships
and one on Vivation as a tool for personal growth. He has lived in several different
communities, and is currently working on a project in Peru and one in Germany.
Ramona Stucki and Wam Kat
Communes are not isolated islands within our global community. Most communards
seek a better, healthier, more peaceful world, and social and political engagement
are crucial in order to realise that long term goal.
Most people who live in communal groups try to find alternatives to the social and environmental problems through their way of living and working together. Some focus on ecological solutions to the environmental destruction of our planet, while others focus on social issues such as violence. Ultimately, to achieve global peace, communal groups must interact on an international level.
During the recent conflict in the former Yugoslavia, members of ZEGG founded an international volunteer organisation, Balkan Sunflowers. Together with volunteers from all over the world, this organisation creates small, international communities within towns in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo, to help local people, from different ethnic groups, with community building and non-violent conflict resolution. The know-how for this comes from the experience of living in a commune.
As well, intentional communities provide a sanctuary for those peace-activists, a safe home-base, to recover and to reflect on their experiences and develop new ideas.
Balkan Sunflowers hopes to co-operate with intentional communities around the world, with each communal group bringing in their own special knowledge. (www.balkansunflowers.org and www.balkanpeacepath.org)
Ramona Stucki, of Germany, has lived in ZEGG since its beginning. She runs
ZEGG bookshop, as well as engaging in local politics and environmental issues.
She has worked with Balkan Sunflowers several times, in the Balkans. She is
a board member of Balkan Sunflowers, and of Infocafé Der Winkel',
Dr Wam Kat, born in a large intentional communities in the Netherlands, has a Doctorate in sociology and mass-communication. He co-founded Hobbitstee and Rampenplan, two of Holland's best known contemporary communities. Since 1995, he has lived in ZEGG where he works as a peace-activist. During the 1991-95 war in Croatia and Bosnia, he worked with the anti-war campaign in Croatia. He is the founder and Chairman of the Board of Balkan Sunflowers.
This research places the technocratic elite in kibbutzim into a theoretical
explanation for the kibbutz crisis and transformation. A technocrat is a coordinator
of complex systems, who has a high education and a managerial position. We hypothesize
that when a technocrat's sense of deprivation increases and circumstances permit
large-scale social change, they will demand that society be changed in the spirit
of technocratic management. To achieve legitimation, they support the aspirations
of the others' for privatization and openness of the kibbutz. A dynamic
of stepped-up change is created which leads to unanticipated results. These
assumptions were examined using a methodology of case study, interviews, statistic
analysis of survey and hard data, and anthropological analysis.
The conclusions of the research confirm our hypothesis. The different aspirations of technocrats and of others' take the form of three channels within the flow of change: the managerial' trend pushed by the technocrats removes the others' from the centers of control; the privatizing' trend pushed by the others' increases the freedom and responsibility of the individual versus the communal; and the intertwining' trend which intensifies the relationship between the kibbutz and its geographical and social environment is pushed by technocrats and rank and file members. Technocrats are motivated by uniform, crystallized thinking. The others' grant confused, mixed and reluctant legitimation to the changes. This overall dynamic of change creates a different set of solutions in each kibbutz. Kibbutzim which were previously consensual are turning to other modes of communalism.
Our study demonstrates incompatibility between technocracy on one side, and democracy and equality on the other, and tension between these transforms a communal society when the technocratic elite becomes dominant.
Menachem Topel has been a member of Kibbutz Mefalsim since 1963. He is a sociologist,
kibbutz researcher, and Head of the Social Studies Research Desk at Yad Tabenkin,
Israel. He lectures in Sociology and Kibbutz at the Academic Colleges of Ashkelon
and Sapir. He has published widely including: Power Elites in an Egalitarian
Community; Organization, Power, and Leadership in the Kibbutz Community; and
Technocrats as Agents of Change in an Egalitarian Society.
Germany has a long, rich and highly significant history of communal living, both of religious and secular varieties. Many of the early communes in America, Britain and Australia came from Germany.
This presentation will stress the societal and personal importance of communal living in a society of over-individualization and atomization.
Since the 1970s, Germany has experienced a remarkable increase in the number of communitarian communities. Most of them are still rather small. There have been only weak attempts to create and maintain the sort of networks which, in Israel and USA, have been essential for the communal movement.
Since German re-unification in 1990, communitarian life has developed a much broader range because many of the East-German collectivised farmers insisted on staying in their co-operatives, a form of communitarian lifestyle.
Recent research shows that Germany has about 60 communes (1995), when defined in the strict sense of the term, and many more communities than that (about 130) which are less intensely communal.
The research of Detlef Bansamir provides us with our first comprehensive knowledge about the German communitarian landscape, and shows many startling facts about contemporary German communards.
As a result of the New Social Movements' in the last 30 years, the idea and practice of communitarian life has become an acknowledged part of many different attempts to develop an alternative lifestyle within and in opposition to the capitalist, bourgeois society.
But also in Germany the world-wide trend to individualization prevails, so it impossible to say whether, in the future, German communalism will enjoy a further period of growth - or even survive.
Professor Fritz Vilmar is Emeritus Professor for Political Science at Freie Universität Berlin, Germany. He has researched various communal groups in Germany, and has studied the lessons which Kibbutzim have for the establishment of communitarian projects elsewhere. In 1990, he co-founded a kibbutz-like project, ÖkoLeA, which re-built an old farm near Berlin, as a Permaculture Bio-Garden, and a seminar space for adult education.
Five hundred years ago in Italy, the Renaissance changed our planet, bringing
art and science to a peak never before reached by human genius. Today, at the
beginning of the third millennium, yet again in Italy and by young and multi-ethnic
people, Damanhur is launching a new Renaissance. By bringing together art and
science, spirituality and daily life, philosophy and the desire to play, Damanhur
is creating a luminous and protected greenhouse' for the growth of human
beings for a new era.
Founded in the early 1970s, Damanhur is now an international centre for spiritual and social research, and a school of thought which has given life to a new society. Located in the Alpine foothills of Piedmont, Damanhur is a federation of intentional communities with a social and political structure, a constitution, its own currency, over 50 economic activities and services, a daily paper, internal schools and a university open to researchers of all ages from all over the world. Today's Federation numbers over 500 resident citizens and approximately another 370 others who live nearby. Damanhur Federation has 300 hectares of woodland, residential development and arable land, and 85 privately owned buildings, artistic workshops, studios companies and farms.
Since its foundation, Damanhur has been recycling its waste, experimenting with organic agriculture, and looking for eco-compatible ways of living, producing and developing its settlements. Damanhur seeks a sustainable way of living based on exchange, respect for the environment and on sharing of ethical and spiritual values.
The heart of Damanhur is the Sacred Wood, located directly above the Temples of Humankind, and representing a continuation of the Temples into the open air. The Temples are well known all over the world. They are a subterranean work of art composed of many beautiful, linked chambers: The Halls of Water, the Earth, Spheres, Mirrors, Metals, the Blue Temple and the Labyrinth. The Temples are a great three-dimensional book, carved by hand out of the rock.
Damanhur has many centres in Italy and Europe, and maintains contact with spiritual groups all over the world. The People of Damanhur work for freedom and the reawakening of humans as divine, spiritual beings.
Lepre Viola is a musician, teacher and specialist in Damanhurian meditation disciplines, and has been living in Damanhur since 1983. She is the author of two books La Via della Musica' (The way of Music) and Percezione Olistica' (Holistic Perception). She is the representative of Damanhur for international relations for Europe and intentional communities.
How do we live together in a way that helps us to grow as ecological individuals, without blocking each other's development?
ÖkoLeA commune, Germany, was created in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall, when people saw the opportunity to build new communities in the deserted places of eastern Germany. ÖkoLeA stands for "Ecological living and working". People from different backgrounds (squatters, Kibbutz followers, nuclear families) came together under the banner of ecology. The other common principles were anti-patriarchal, non-sexist and non-racist behaviour, the separation of consumption from performance, and a belief in a consensus decision-making process.
Ten years later, we are still learning about these principles, and our constant question is, "what are the advantages of living this way?". The concept of individual freedom, yearned for by our members from the east, but the scourge of our members from the west, is central to our attempt at ecological, communal living. We are trying to find a dynamic balance between those personal needs that create conflict, and those that fulfil us. We are developing, albeit somewhat tortuously, the collective consciousness necessary for an anarchist society. To be myself is to benefit the world I live in.
We live on an old farm, formerly an Agricultural Production Unit, with half a hectare garden, based on Permaculture ideas. We run a non-profit, educational association, and in June 2001 we shall start a wood-oven bakery business. We are seventeen adults and nine children, nearly all German. Some are well-off professionals while others are on the dole and look after goats and gardens. Half of everyone's income goes into our kitty', or common-purse, to pay for our communal cars, food, energy, etc., and repay our huge debt. This 50/50 monetary split between the individual and the collective reflects the trust between we people who have come together out of idealism, and are staying together out of conviction.
Martin Webber, from Ireland, is 48 years old and is a "Heilpraktiker",
or "Healer". He lives at ÖkoLeA commune with his partner and
5-year-old daughter. He works with young people in the ÖkoLeA commune's
garden, and with their animals, and helps run ÖkoLeA's Education Group.
Anarchistic trends at the beginning of the 20th century had a great impact
on the pioneers who came to rebuild a Jewish homeland in Palestine. The best
known of these anarchist doctrines was that of Peter Kropotkin.
Achdut HaAvoda, the largest party of early Zionist Socialism translated Kropotkin's books into Hebrew. The idea of building their future through independent, communal creation, combining "fields and workshops", appealed to many pioneers in early Palestine.
Kropotkin documented anti-semitism, and identified closely with Jewish workers during his time in London, and he talked with Jewish workers in USA, in Yiddish. Franz Oppenheimer, who originated the idea of a cooperative in Merhavia (one of the new Zionist settlements in the Jezreel Valley) met and corresponded with Kropotkin. Haim Arlozorov, a leader in the workers movement in Palestine and in the Zionist Organization, understood Kropotkin well and wrote a brilliant essay about him. Kropotkin also had an indirect influence through thinkers such as Gustav Landauer and Martin Buber who passed on parts of his doctrine through their own works.
Kropotkin's books, translated into Hebrew, influenced many generations of Jewish pioneers and workers. Kropotkin's anarcho-communism was an inspiration to the Kibbutz movement. His doctrine, based on the absolute need for freedom of the individual and consequently on the absolute need for voluntary and non-governmental organizations, was eminently suitable to the reality that came into being with the Kibbutz movement.
Professor Avraham Yassour teaches political philosophy at Haifa University,
Israel. His research interests include Social Philosophy, Utopian Studies, Marx-Buber-Landourer,
Buber's Social Philosophy, Philosophy and Utopia, Vision and Daily Life in Kibbutz,
and Chapters in the History of Kibbutz. He is a long-term member of Kibbutz
Brother Johannes Zinzendorf
and Brother Christian Spiritus Zinzendorf
The Hermitage is a spiritually-based intentional community in Pennsylvania,
USA. Originally founded in 1749 in Germany by the Unitas Fractum (Moravians
in English, Herrnhutters in German), our founder, Christian Renatus Zinzendorf,
was considered to be the returned Christ by a small group of dedicated men and
women, and he was worshipped sexually and spiritually by his brothers and sisters.
Today, we are a queer, pantheist, post-Christian, earth-based sanctuary.
Another important aspect of our founding was recognizing the Holy Spirit as a mother. In reviving this religious order, we have broadened this concept to include the entire planet as a mothering spirit. This is the basis for our mission of ecological stewardship, and of recognizing the earth as both a garden and a sanctuary. Our communal life consists of stewardship and contemplation. Our 63 acres (26 hectares) represents a return to The Garden, with us as its gardeners.
In viewing the land as a sanctuary, we protect it legally from future development, recognizing its right to exist in a cooperative state with us. Everything exists here by conscious choice: the buildings have been moved here and adaptively reused, the animals are protected, we are a communal family living together with the land, animals and buildings. As an earth-centered spiritual movement in which we believe everything is alive and has spirit, we accept the role of stewards in protecting our family and in providing a nurturing, compassionate space in which to grow. Our central metaphor is flowers in a garden, each one growing and fulfilling its destiny. To us, diversity makes for beauty. We provide a safe place for many spirits to grow and thrive.
The union of sexuality and spirituality is still very important to us at The Hermitage.
Recent research in the Moravian Archives at Herrnhut, Germany, using documents from the mid-18th century, indicates what an embarrassment our religious order was for the early Moravian church. Church censors have, over the years, destroyed many documents in an attempt to remove all knowledge of sexual worship within the church, as well as downplaying the image of the Holy Spirit as a mother.
Our history is an important part of who and what we are, although our contemporary communal life bears little upon our disputed origins. There are many ways of interpreting history that go beyond official versions. We happen to use an intuitive approach.
Brothers Christian and Johannes Zinzendorf are the founding members of The
Hermitage, a Moravian-based community of pantheists in Pennsylvania, USA.